I cover Penn State. So I view everything within the Penn State world as a journalist.
I am a Steelers fan. I don’t cover the team. I am biased. And when I talk about the Black & Gold, I am speaking directly as a FAN.
I always think it’s important that readers and radio listeners understand the difference.
OK, so with that out of the way …
I absolutely love the Steelers selecting Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth in the second round of the NFL draft!
I predicted it could happen on my radio show Friday afternoon during an interview with Nick Farabaugh from SteelersNow.com. And I got a big smile on my face when Franco Harris announced Freiermuth’s name (although the Steelers and Penn State legend actually butchered the PSU tight end’s name).
It’s only right that Franco Harris announced Pat Freiermuth’s selection to his Pittsburgh Steelers 🤩 pic.twitter.com/ClFMOjxStY
— Onward State (@OnwardState) May 1, 2021
You can find all sorts of analysis about Freiermuth all over the place. Here’s the most important thing to know:
He catches the ball.
Freiermuth is an exceptional pass-catching tight end on short and intermediate routes, and he’s tremendous in the red zone. He is as reliable as any tight end I’ve seen in college when it comes to making the grab. I think he might have dropped one pass in his Penn State career, yet he made all sorts of very difficult catches.
He is not the greatest athlete, but he’s better in that regard than former PSU and Steelers tight end Jesse James.
Freiermuth also is a better blocker than James. And a better blocker than budding Miami Dolphins star Mike Gesicki, another former PSU standout.
I was asked by Alan Saunders from our sister site Steelers Now if, instead of referring to Freiermuth as “Baby Gronk,” Steelers fans could call him “Baby Heath,” as in Heath Miller.
Like Heeeeeeeath, Freiermuth will catch everything thrown his way. Unlike Miller, Freiermuth is not a great blocking tight end, although I do believe he wants to block and can be good at it.
Alright, the elephant in the room is whether the Steelers should have taken an offensive lineman over Freiermuth in the second round, after going with running back Najee Harris in the first round.
Yes, the Steelers absolutely need offensive line help.
But I believe Freiermuth, who at one point was projected to be a first-round pick before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at Penn State in 2020, was just too good of a player for the Steelers to pass up with the 55th pick.
Freiermuth will be able to step in and help Ben Roethlisberger and the Steeler offense right away as a rookie next season. He will make some big catches and give Big Ben a nice, big target on quick throws when he has to get rid of the ball quickly.
Freiermuth has said he doesn’t like the “Baby Gronk” nickname, and it’s probably unfair to compare him to the greatest tight end who’s ever played the game.
But Freiermuth has a ton of ability, he can help the Steelers right away and for a long time, and I believe the team made an excellent decision by drafting him.