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2021 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth

Looking what experts were saying about the Steelers second round pick.

Maryland v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In the 2nd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State. Here’s what some different draft sites were saying about Freiermuth.


Tony Pauline for Pro Football Network

The Good

Nice-sized tight end who shows a complete game at the position. Natural receiver who plays heads-up football and shows great awareness. Sells routes, extends his hands, and snatches the ball away from his frame with strong hands. Locates the pass in the air and makes the difficult catch in a crowd with multiple defenders draped on him. Bends his knees, plays with leverage, and gives effort blocking even if the play is away from him.

The Bad

Possesses average blocking strength and really doesn’t get much movement. Average run-after-the-catch skill. Doesn’t show the great burst or play speed for a top-rated tight end.


Doug Farrar for USA Today

The Good

Freiermuth has already received the nickname “Baby Gronk” for his blocking and aggressive catch style. It’s a high bar, but it’s possible.

The Bad

When run blocking, at times, he tends to over-stride, where he is a little too aggressive to make his block. Any above average linebacker with leverage can easily move around him.
As for receiving, there isn’t much downside. But from the film, when he has to get low making a catch, he often has trouble keeping his feet underneath him, so it will make for an ugly fall to the ground and sometimes, on those events specifically, ball security was an issue.


Lance Zierlein for NFL.com

The Good

Coveted combination of size and athletic ability.
Highly competitive with ball in his hands.
Smooth in space and stacks downhill yards after the catch.
Pummels tacklers with phone pole stiff-arm.
Has size and blocking potential to become a true Y tight end.
Makes impressive athletic recoveries and finishes blocks.

The Bad

Can improve his angles as a blocker.
Needs better first-engagement pop.
Inconsistent footwork to sustain second-level blocks.
Average quickness to separate on lateral route breaks.
Inconsistent catch focus to finish in traffic.
Can do a better job of putting defenders on his hip and out of the catch.


Kyle Crabbs for The Draft Network

The Good

Today’s NFL is ultimately rooted in the passing game and tight ends are the new-age mismatch weapons that put defensive play-callers in a bind. Freiermuth can be that caliber of a receiver thanks to his blend of size, hands, route-running, and physicality in the secondary.

The Bad

As Freiermuth has developed his body and added muscle during his time at Penn State, the assumption was that he would continue to progress as an in-line blocker; but we never really saw that leap in that chapter of his game, even once he returned for the 2020 season.


Jim Mora for Sports Illustrated

He has the size, he has the stature and he has the length. He’s what the NFL is looking for right now in a tight end, and that’s a mismatch down the field on defensive players. Pat is a guy who causes defensive coordinators headaches, because you have to figure out a way to cover him. If you play man coverage on him, the defensive backs aren’t big enough, and linebackers and defensive ends aren’t fast enough or athletic enough. These guys are rare and so valued. He’s a guy who’s going to create problems.


Summary

Pat Freiermuth is as unlikely to live up to the “Baby Gronk” nickname as any of the players that were touted as “The next Michael Jordan” were. But it is clear from reading scouting reports on Freiermuth that he has an incredibly high ceiling and a floor that isn’t that low either.

The word Potential is tied to Freiermuth at every turn, he has the size and athleticism to be a really good blocker, just needs to get his technique down. He has the size and ball catching ability to be a matchup nightmare, but he needs to improve his route running and reduce drops.

Freiermuth reminds me of a second round version of Jesse James. James had the potential to be much better than he was if you just looked at physical traits and his catching ability. He was a solid player, a really good fifth round pick, but he never reached that ceiling. Freiermuth should be a solid starting tight end for the Steelers, but he has the potential to be a generational talent at his position.