The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 NFL Draft class has been something to watch. Of the nine players selected, a vast majority of them have some sort of role with the team throughout the 2021 regular season.
Just look at the list:
RB Najee Harris — 1st Round *
TE Pat Freiermuth — 2nd Round
C Kendrick Green — 3rd Round *
OT Dan Moore Jr. — 4th Round *
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk — 5th Round
DB Tre Norwood — 7th Round
P Pressley Harvin — 7th Round
When you look at the list, it is amazing to believe the Steelers will have those type of contributions from their rookies. Some would argue the reason players like Green and Moore are playing are solely due to injury and/or a desperate need at the position. Either way, the Steelers’ rookie class is a large part of this team in 2021.
One of the players who is likely to see an even larger role on the offense coming out of the bye week would be second round pick, Pat Friermuth. Freiermuth has been able to register the following statistics throughout the first six games of the regular season.
Receiving First Downs: 12
Freiermuth’s role is slowly expanding in the Steelers’ offense, and offensive coordinator recognizes how getting Freiermuth involved can really open up the offense.
“I thought Pat [Freiermuth] got involved and continued to make the improvements we believe he can make.” Canada said. “He and Ben [Roethlisberger] continue to develop a rapport, which we know is important, and trust, and all those different things. He had a real big third-down conversion there early and that led to a touchdown.”
Freiermuth has been compared to one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets in his career, Heath Miller, and that comparison isn’t to be taken lightly. However, if Freiermuth can duplicate some of the success Miller had, especially as Roethlisbeger’s go-to option when things break down, it will make a world of difference for the offense moving forward.
Just how has Freiermuth continued to improve throughout his rookie season? As Canada outlines, in a lot of ways.
“His knowledge of the speed of the game. Pat’s a great student of the game. He cares. He wants to win. He wants to be where he’s supposed to be, do what he’s supposed to do.” Canada said. “[Al]fredo [Robert]’s done a great job with him. You look at him being a rookie and all the things we’re asking him to do, and I think he gets better every week.
“That’s gonna continue to grow. Like I mentioned earlier, the rapport with Ben is big and important and nothing but time and reps gets that done. We can all talk about this and that. Until you’re out there playing, it doesn’t happen. I think he’s doing a great job and we have to continue to try and put him in a position to make plays.”
The Steelers have two great tight ends in Eric Ebron and Freiermuth, but it is safe to say they are vastly different players. Although a rookie, Freiermuth is much more then two-way tight end, compared to Ebron who is still looked upon as more of a receiving option than a blocker.
Freiermuth’s abilities, combined with his work ethic, have the makings of what looks to be the start of an extraordinary career in Pittsburgh. Remember how fans were longing for the next Heath Miller? Well, the Steelers might have just drafted him in the second round of the 2021 draft. Hate the comparison? Blame Roethlisberger.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they get some much needed rest and relaxation during their Week 7 bye week.