The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally invested high draft capital to the Tight End position since draft Heath Miller in the first round in 2005! Rejoice! With having a similar skillset to stat monger tight end Hunter Henry one could expect Freiermuth to be set up to break some Steelers tight end rookie records. But can he actually do it?
Let’s start with the obvious name and see what Heath Miller was able to pull off his rookie year. As a rookie, Miller snagged 39 passes for 459 yards and six touchdown receptions. In a 17 game season, Freiermuth would only have to average 2.5 receptions, 27 yards, and one touchdown every three weeks to surpass the Steelers all-time greatest tight end rookie stat benchmark. Freiermuth’s rookie season would be considered a disappointment if he isn't able to pull that stat line off.
1990 first round pick Eric Green also had a dynamic rookie year. Although he didn't touch Miller’s reception or yardage totals he did put up a whopping seven touchdowns. Pat Freiermuth would have to turn into Rob Gronkowski himself to surpass that total. There’s just way too many weapons on this Steelers’ offense for him to get that many looks in the red zone. But, if by miracle he does score in more than half of games I would be the first to declare the Steelers landed another stud in the Penn State tight end.
Now that we know the players atop the rookie tight end boards, let’s take a look at the biggest factors standing in Pat Freiermuth’s way. Number one, and most importantly, is Eric Ebron. Say what you will about the North Carolina product, but Ebron is still a former Pro Bowl tight end and has a tight relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It’s possible that Matt Canada might play Ebron more so as a really big receiver, but Freiermuth will have to earn every snap.
The second biggest factor in Freiermuth’s way from rookie dominance is the pure amount of talent ahead of him in the Steelers pecking order. Here are the guys he has to compete with:
Ray Ray McCloud
Freiermuth will have to quickly separate himself within this receiving group and become a reliable target for Roethlisberger immediately.
Thankfully for Pat the benchmarks are low enough where he has a fighting chance to break these rookie records. Heck, even just a couple of really strong games could push him close to be the Steelers rookie tight end leader in every category.
But what do you think? Will Pat Freiermuth have the greatest statistical rookie season for a tight end in Steelers history? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.