The Pittsburgh Steelers selected a potential difference maker at the tight end position with Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth with the No. 55 pick overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. In college, he took advantage of mismatches with opposing defenses in the Big Ten, and he has all the tools to be a productive professional and have a long career in the NFL.
One of the leaders of the team as a two-year captain at Penn State, Freiermuth played just four games in the 2020 season due to the Big Ten’s shortened season and an injury to his shoulder. He caught 23 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown in his final college season.
Freiermuth has the size and athleticism to potentially make a significant impact early on for the Steelers. He can be a real playmaker after the catch by breaking tackles and finding ways to add extra yards to the play. Through his work ethic and talent, Freiermuth’s role as a leader should translate well to the professional level. He was a better pass catcher than blocker in college, so run blocking is an area that can be improved for Freiermuth to be a more complete tight end.
Fantasy football impact
Freiermuth was the second tight end to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he’s headed to a Steelers time that already has a sure-fire Week 1 starter in Eric Ebron. Vance McDonald’s departure opened up room for Freiermuth to compete for snaps, but Pittsburgh has plenty of other reliable targets. Being a second-string tight end on a team with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool doesn’t bode well for the rookie. Don’t expect Freiermuth to contribute much in Year 1.
Freiermuth has impressive athleticism and technique, but his stats never jumped off the page at Penn State. He scored 15 touchdowns in his first two years of college, but only eclipsed 500 receiving yards in 2019. Pittsburgh has a wealth of exciting, young wideouts and added RB Najee Harris in the first round of this year’s draft. Freiermuth can be a quality red-zone target, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be a priority. Freiermuth isn’t on track to be a star tight end in the pros.