The Pittsburgh Steelers went out and drafted tight end Eric Ebron‘s eventual replacement, but his playing time amount wasn’t expected to happen so soon.
The Steelers stayed in state in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting Penn State tight end, Pat Freiermuth. Thoughts were that by mid-season, he could challenge Ebron for playing time. But the rookie’s training camp and preseason work showed that he was much more advanced than originally thought.
Freiermuth has been every bit of exceptional in the passing game, while his blocking continues to come along. That paired with the emergence of Zach Gentry as a blocker has significantly reduced the role for Ebron.
Ebron has tried to be a willing blocker, but it just isn’t in his natural game. With a baby-faced offensive line, it has been much more critical for the extra blocking tight ends.
Ebron has a whole 13 targets this season with one rushing attempt that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown. He’s caught 7 of those 13 passes thrown his way for 47 yards.
For comparison, he had 91 targets last season. In 2018, he had 110 targets with Indianapolis with 13 touchdowns.
He’s also not afraid to speak his mind, or cause some ripples. But today, a different-minded Ebron met with the media.
*Video shows vulger language not suitable for children.*
Eric Ebron really candid about how he handles not getting the targets he hoped he’d have.
“My reputation is I’m always saying something, so for me, this time, I’m not going to say anything and Im going to let my tape and my coaches work for me.”
Is it hard?
“It’s hard as f-ck” pic.twitter.com/1f5XMMsKGy
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 25, 2021
Ebron obviously isn’t thrilled about his involvement in the offense. No one with his ability would be. He’s had his moments over the last two years for the Steelers. He’s made plays, but the drops and penalties at critical times are still there.
The Steelers do need Ebron. With JuJu Smith-Schuster out for the season and their complete lack of using the middle of the field in the passing game, they need to get him involved. They also need to involve Freiermuth more too.
Ebron still has value to this offense. It isn’t as an every down tight end, or someone who should get more than a few passes per game, but there is room to create mismatches with him and Freiermuth.