Good news, Steelers Nation. After being subjected to a mind numbing amount of mock drafts and plenty of unsubstantiated speculation during what seemed like an inordinately long pre-draft process, minus the Scouting Combine to break up the monotony, the 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us. I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth with the 55th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. This is a very polarizing pick for yours truly if I am being totally honest. With the Steelers currently having a huge hole in the center of their offensive line, I was certain that the Steelers would address that glaring weakness with their second round selection to maximize the potential impact of first round selection Najee Harris. The Steelers simply cannot afford to go into the season with two undrafted career backups as the only centers on the roster. The Steelers running game was nonexistent with Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey at center last season. I shutter to think what the interior of the line will look like without his presence, even if he was a shadow of his former self at times.
Having said all that, I want to grade Freiermuth's selection as accurately and fairly as possible. Basing his selection on the parameters of need, fit, and value; I give the Steelers selection of Pat Freiermuth a initial draft grade of B.
Freiermuth was given the nickname Baby Gronk during his time at Penn State, but that may be a little bit of a stretch at this point of his young career. He stands 6'5" and weighs 258 lbs. He has been timed at 4.72 in the forty, and displays excellent physicality after the catch. His hands are extremely reliable, making him a weapon in the red zone. He has basketball type skills, particularly adapt at blocking out smaller defenders around the end zone.
Freiermuth has room for improvement as a run blocker, but he is by no means a slouch. He loves contact and enjoys winning one on one confrontations. His battles with former teammate Micah Parsons on the practice fields are the stuff of legends. He has a warrior's mentality, and his blocking should only improve as he adds strength and girth as a professional.
Freiermuth was the consensus second best tight end in this draft class, and he instantly becomes the most talented Steelers tight end since the legendary Heath Miller. Some pundits have made the comparison to Miller, but Freiermuth has better mobility and short area quickness. Freiermuth better fits the profile of a modern day move tight end with his versatility and ability to line up off the ball. He has some similar characteristics to Niners TE George Kittle, but he has a long way to go for me to ever make that comparison.
Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.
I am pleased to welcome Pat Freiermuth to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC community and Steelers Nation!
What initial draft grade do you give this Steelers selection?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Above average selection
C = Solid selection
D = Below average selection
F = Terrible selection