The Steelers 2021 draft class is leaving an impact on this team more than I have ever seen before during their first season. The group is playing significant snaps and are some of the best playmakers on the Steelers roster. Najee Harris will be the crown jewel of group for the foreseeable future, but second-round pick Pat Freiermuth is carving out a role for himself in this system and becoming a prominent player. Through the first six games of his NFL career Freiermuth has been targeted 20 times and caught 18 of them (one of those targets was completely uncatchable). Simply put, the guy catches everything his way and he usually pushes defenders up field when he does it.
The Steelers have had a history under Ben Roethlisberger for severely under targeting tight ends. Even Heath Miller, in his prime, was rarely the focal point of the offense when he could have been one of the best statistical tight ends of his era. The Steelers can't misuse a talented tight end like this again. While Miller was just as good if not better as a blocker, Freiermuth’s skillset lends him to be a better in the passing game, in the mold of the modern tight end being basically a really big receiver. A number of times this season, Roethlisberger has completely looked off Freiermuth despite him running wide open. With Freiermuth’s unbelievable hands the Steelers can't afford to neglect him when he is running alone or on a significant mismatch.
The fact of the matter remains that Pat Freiermuth is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends Ben Roethlisberger has gotten to throw to. His skillset isn't something he is used to targeting, but Roethlisberger needs to start looking 88’s way. Utilizing him as a true tight end also means some safeties will have to play deeper off of the line, or a linebacker might have to shift over for better leverage in man coverage, which in turn opens up running lanes for Najee Harris. Both of the Steelers super rookies can feed off of each other here, if the Steelers just decide to use Freiermuth more.
The seven targets Freiermuth received against the Seahawks is a perfect example of how the Steelers should use him. However, they need to sprinkle in more primary routes where he is the first read and get him running more seems, posts, and corners where he can really gash a defense much in the same way Travis Kelce and Darren Waller do to the opposition. Using Freiermuth more opens up a world of possibilities for the offense and something I think they need to wholeheartedly need to do more often.
But what do you think? Should the Steelers get Pat Freiermuth more involved in the offense? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.