The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is in the midst of going through a monumental change on the offensive side of the ball for this upcoming season. Not only did the Steelers select running back Najee Harris out of the University of Alabama with their first round selection in hopes of finally turning around the running game, they also decided to go “all in” on this offense by selecting tight end Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State University with their one and only selection in the second round, immediately following the pick of Harris. There were other options for the Steelers to choose from. Talented players at various positions of need were still available when the Steelers were on the clock with that second round pick. Obviously, the decision to draft Freiermuth tells SteelerNation that the team they have now is built to win, and these pieces will help them do so.
I guess the real question still left unanswered is the question of why tight end? Why did the Steelers use one of their high coveted early round selections on a player at a position that the Steelers themselves spent a good chunk of change on during last year’s off-season? The only true answer I can gather is that the selection seems to lie on just how good this young prospect could be or the potential vision they have for both Eric Ebron and Freiermuth himself.
It seems as if there had to have been a plan already in place for the tight end position going into 2021, and when Freiermuth landed right into their laps at pick 55, the whole plan seemed to come to fruition right then and there. Both tight ends at the top of this depth chart have skill sets that balance each other out to a point where it can keep defenses guessing on a weekly basis, a plus for an offense looking for change.
While Ebron and Freiermuth are both very reliable red zone targets, both position players’ skill sets create mismatches on the defensive side of the ball. Ebron’s skill set doesn’t really reflect that “comfort blanket” persona that most tight ends have, more so a playmaker. I’m a big fan of Ebron, I think he is one of the best tight ends in the league with the ball in his hands. He has the playmaking ability of a wide receiver and has the ability to beat a linebacker matched up with him one on one, just purely based off of speed. Having essentially a receiver type of player playing the tight end position benefits the team in many more ways than one, and that’s what Ebron’s skill set brings to the table.
Freiermuth, on the other hand, has a skill set that is more inclined with that comfort blanket type of title. While Freiermuth has been called “baby Gronk” for many various reasons, one of them could be because of just how reliable this player is. While at Penn State, Freiermuth was credited with zero dropped passes on 30 career red zone targets which is an area this Steelers team has struggled with offensively through the past two seasons. Not only was he reliable as a red zone target, but throughout his whole college career, Freiermuth was credited with only eight dropped passes on 100 career “catchable” targets. Freiermuth is not the type of tight end that can beat a linebacker with just flat out speed, but he is the type that you can trust will be there for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in times of need, sort of like the type of player Heath Miller was for this team in the 2010’s.
We all know what happens when people assume things, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Steelers will use both of these tight ends in packages that will not only help the team, but also help both of these players to show off their skill sets in the ways that best fit them. This is a position that this organization has struggled to find a replacement after Miller’s retirement back in 2016. This pairing of Ebron and Freiermuth is bound to bring the same if not more success for this team for the near future.
Do you think this TE pairing will flourish in 2021? Comment below!