The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL Draft class has been getting some recognition this offseason, and it isn’t just Najee Harris. While ESPN continues to rank the top players by position, via Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers have been well represented at several positions.
As Fowler and company work through the offensive skill positions, the tight end position was highly contested. Considering how the tight end position is valued in today’s NFL offense, it makes sense there are some big name players near, or at, the top of the list.
But before getting to the Top 10 list, let’s first show the criteria Fowler and ESPN used to get this list down to 10 players:
Here’s how our process worked: Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, hundreds of interviews, research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 50 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with our rankers. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy — even the honorable mentions.
The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2022. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who are the best players today? Pretty simple.
Let’s get to the Top 10, but before doing so it is worth noting you won’t find Freiermuth on the list, but that doesn’t mean he was completely overlooked.
The Top 10
1. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
4. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
5. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
7. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
8. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
9. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
10. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
After the Top 10 Fowler listed several players who are deserving of credit, but not necessarily in the Top 10. The second year tight end out of Penn State fit the bill and was one of the players who was just outside the Top 10 looking in.
Here is what ESPN had to say about the Steelers young tight end:
Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
Freiermuth impressed as a rookie with 60 catches for 497 yards and seven touchdowns while navigating Pittsburgh’s vertically challenged offense. He caught 75.9% of his targets, including 61.5% of his tight-window passes (second among tight ends, per NFL Next Gen Stats). “He’s really, really impressed me,” an AFC offensive coach said. “Just a good football player, has a feel for how to get open, athletic, tough. Needs to work on his blocking.”
It is good to see Freiermuth getting some recognition from the national media, but it also begs the question of whether or not Freiermuth could have cracked the Top 10? Would you take Freiermuth, even as a rookie, over someone like Knox or Goedert? Let us know what you think about these rankings in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.