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Dynasty & Redraft: TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers


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Pat is a 6'5" 250 lb TE who has been coined Baby Gronk. He's expected to get picked in the top 50 of the NFL draft and is likely a 2nd round rookie pick. He's probably TE 2 behind Kyle Pitts in this class and should be an impact TE at the next level.

Edited by IHEARTFF
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'He checks every single box': How Freiermuth projects as NFL Draft prospect

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Ever since bursting onto the scene as a freshman at Penn State, Merrimac's Pat Freiermuth has been regarded as one of the nation's top tight ends. The former Pentucket and Brooks School standout now leaves as the program's all-time leader in touchdown catches by a tight end, and the 6-foot-5, 258-pounder is expected to be an early selection in this April's 2021 NFL Draft.

But how will Freiermuth's skills translate to the next level? And how will he be looked at by NFL decision makers ahead of the draft? As someone who is not an NFL talent evaluator and who has known Freiermuth and his family since he was a 14-year-old sophomore at Pentucket, I acknowledge that I'm not exactly the best person to offer that insight. So I reached out to Evan Lazar, who covers the New England Patriots for CNLS Media and specializes in talent evaluation and analyzing the Xs and Os of football, for a more informed opinion.

During the offseason Lazar annually produces a terrific list of Twitter threads breaking down all of the top draft prospects, and earlier this week he took at look at Freiermuth and the other top tight end prospects in the draft. With Freiermuth's film fresh in mind, I asked Lazar for his thoughts on the local star. Our conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, is as follows.

Mac Cerullo: When you watched Pat Freiermuth's film earlier this week, what were your overall impressions of him as a NFL prospect?

Evan Lazar: The biggest thing that I would say stands out with him is speed. He's not necessarily a straight-line speed type of guy, I wouldn't call him a vertical threat at that position, but he's really good at the line of scrimmage, really good at the top of the route, and definitely creates separation with his route running and his technique. There are a lot of tight ends like that who aren't necessarily straight-line burners in the seam, and I think he's going to be productive whether they put him with his hand in the dirt or if they detach him from the formation in the slot or something and have him run slants and breaking routes or cut off the field horizontally. I think he's going to be able to use his size and his frame pretty productively.

Evan Lazar @ezlazar

#Patriots draft target: Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth. 6-5, 258. Quick feet, plays through contact, strong release package, YAC, & blocking upside. First thing that jumps out is his blocking. Excellent combo block here. Displacement on the double then peel off w/good timing.

https://twitter.com/ezlazar/status/1354193231760732160?s=21

MC: In your thread you were particularly complimentary of Freiermuth's blocking ability. What stands out the most?

EL: He's really impressive for a college guy. A lot of college guys nowadays are not very good blockers technique-wise, they're not very well coached in those areas and they just don't come into the NFL as polished blockers, especially ones that are good pass catchers like [Florida tight end] Kyle Pitts. Pat can definitely block, and that's something that was very impressive. They used him in multiple ways as a blocker, as a lead blocker on quarterback draw type plays or read option type plays, and also at the end of the line of scrimmage blocking guys face to face, and he did pretty much everything well in 2020 in that regard.

MC: In what areas do you think Freiermuth needs to improve? 

EL: When you look at his blocking you want to see if he has the strength and has the frame to kind of build it out. There are going to be instances with these college guys where their blocking technique is raw, so with Pat I would like to see him use his hands a little more. A lot of these guys they'll try to just lower their shoulder into contact and try to block that way and not use their hands as guidelines, it's much easier to connect and guide a guy when you've got good hand placement than if you're trying to just body him, so I think that would be a next step for him. 

As a pass catcher, I didn't think he was as good up the field as a vertical threat, running the seam, things like that. He didn't do it a ton, and if there's one thing I would like to see more out of him, I don't know that it's necessarily that he does it poorly, I would just like to see more of that ability to run the old Gronk seam route, that type of thing. But his route running reminds me a lot more of a different type of tight end from Gronk, but he really gets in and out of his routes a lot more like a Zach Ertz type than a Gronk type where he can really be sort of quick and sudden out of his moves and get open that way, so I'm not sure it necessarily matters that he's not going to really test coverage by running by anybody.

MC: I'm glad you mentioned Rob Gronkowski, because that's who Freiermuth has most often been compared to. Do you feel that is a reasonable comparison?

EL: It's always tough to compare anybody to Gronk, and that's something I often try to stay away from with comparisons in general, not just Gronk, but obviously I'm not going to compare any quarterback to Tom Brady or any wide receiver to Randy Moss. I think what you do see with him is that two-way versatility, that ability to put his hand in the ground and block, and also run routes from different alignments. In that sense he is kind of like a Gronk piece where he's a traditional in-line tight end, but he can also be a move piece where you can get matchups for him in the slot or out wide or wherever you want to move him around, and that's what made Gronk so rare. 

I think Pat shows he can be at least a little bit of both, and in that respect just in terms of his blocking, everyone is going to have Kyle Pitts as the No. 1 tight end in the draft, but in terms of the all-around skillset I think Pat does have a more complete package, with his blocking ability and receiving ability than a guy like Pitts. I see the comparison in that respect in terms of his usage, but obviously nobody is going to be as physically dominant as Gronk.

MC: When do you expect Freiermuth to be taken and what do you think are reasonable expectations for him as an NFL player?

EL: I think there's a chance that he sneaks into the end of the first round, honestly. He's got everything you look for at that position, he checks every single box. A lot of teams are going to be interested in him towards the back end of the first round, maybe early Day 2. I actually did his thread before Kyle Pitts' thread because the Patriots with that No. 46 pick, that feels like a really nice spot for him if he ends up being there. It might be a little late in terms of where he's going to go, but I would say somewhere in that 25 to 46 range, I don't know if he gets past 46 if he's still on the board and the Patriots are on the clock.

In terms of his NFL projection, the main thing you have to remember is that tight ends, especially rookie tight ends, tend not to produce right away. Those guys take a couple of years to build up to good production, but I think he's going to be a 600-700 receiving yard type of guy, which for a tight end is really good. The comparison I think I would use for him that's a little bit different from Gronk would be Hunter Henry, who does a lot of the same things as a guy like Pat, and if you look at Hunter Henry's career statistics, that 600-700 yard range is pretty much where he's at when he's healthy.

 

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Penn State redshirt junior TE Pat Freiermuth declared for the NFL Draft.

Freiermuth (6'5/260) underwent season ending surgery for an undisclosed injury back in November and missed the remainder of the season. He finished the season with 23 catches for 310 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt junior is regarded as a top three tight end in the 2021 NFL Draft class with the potential to be selected in the first-round. The Athletic's Dana Brugler writes "Freiermuth has several strengths to his game, including his route-running and hands, but his compete skills stood out to me the most." Besides Florida TE Kyle Pitts, Freiermuth is as good as any other tight end in the 2021 class. 

SOURCE: Pat Freiermuth on Twitter

Dec 20, 2020, 3:29 PM ET

 

 

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20 hours ago, Faust said:

Penn State redshirt junior TE Pat Freiermuth declared for the NFL Draft.

Freiermuth (6'5/260) underwent season ending surgery for an undisclosed injury back in November and missed the remainder of the season. He finished the season with 23 catches for 310 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt junior is regarded as a top three tight end in the 2021 NFL Draft class with the potential to be selected in the first-round. The Athletic's Dana Brugler writes "Freiermuth has several strengths to his game, including his route-running and hands, but his compete skills stood out to me the most." Besides Florida TE Kyle Pitts, Freiermuth is as good as any other tight end in the 2021 class. 

SOURCE: Pat Freiermuth on Twitter

Dec 20, 2020, 3:29 PM ET

 

 

#2 TE on most boards and a few even like him as the #1TE.  There are 3 TEs I love in this draft and one or two more I like for later in the draft.  Generally I don't like drafting TEs early.  I predict Freiermuth will go off the board in dynasty drafts early in the 2nd round.  Jordan probably late 2nd to early 3rd, or maybe late 3rd.

Edited by JohnnyU
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  • 4 weeks later...

Not a lot of discussion with him here and I like that because he's flying under the radar.  That's because of all the hype Pitts is getting, but he's better than all the TEs from the 2020 draft.

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He's a better prospect than anyone from last year, arguably better than Hockenson even from 2019. I wouldn't go that far but it's a conversation worth having. He should go mid-late 1st in the NFL draft. 

It's weird how TE's are so replaceable other than the absolutely elite ones. It's almost impossible to find that elite guy. At least Pat has a chance to become that. Other's like Jonnu, Tonyan, Gesicki, Irv Smith don't seem to have that ceiling. 

Edited by Zyphros
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sitting on 2.4 & 2.12 in Dynasty and two of the questions that I must answer prior to the draft is whether I'm willing to take the plunge on a developmental TE at these spots, or let Freiermuth and Brevin Jordan pass.

If "Baby Gronk" or even Hockenson comps are reasonable for Freiermuth, it's a no-brainer.   I'm a bit skeptical on both.   Betting money says that Gronk is a gross exaggeration and Hockenson is slightly optimistic.   As I recall, Hockenson was a fixture in the back half of round 1 mock drafts for a long time leading up through rookie drafts.   That draft probably wasn't the most top-heavy, but still projecting strictly on fantasy upside, it seems like Pitts might be more of a rich man's Hockenson.   Freiermuth might be more of a Fant strictly on fantasy upside, not on what Freiermuth will bring to his NFL team.

For me the question is whether Freiermuth has the goods and finds a team that will allow him to flash in his rookie season much like Hockenson did in week 1.   If you have a budding young TE who looks destined to crack the top half of the TE1s, I will take that with my mid-2nd all day long.   However, the downside of using meaningful draft capital on a rookie TE with anything less than a can't miss stud pedigree goes without saying.   There's nothing worse than burning a high pick on a TE who brings nothing to the table while supposedly possessing too much upside to even consider freeing up that roster spot prior to his Year 3 season.  My standard protocol is to just take one of the running backs that has a snow ball's chance in round 2.   If they show nothing in their rookie year, you can probably feel better about cutting them and not having future nightmares.   However, maybe Freiermuth is good enough to make that commitment.       

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Steelers selected Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth with the No. 55 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Freiermuth's size (6'5/258) and resume lend confidence he can excel as an every-down player in the NFL, recording a catch in 29 consecutive games (all but his college debut) and passing Mike Gesicki for the most touchdown receptions (16) by a tight end in Penn State history. He earned the "Baby Gronk" monicker as a sure-handed inline option, totaling three drops on 99 targets while shedding 12 tackles on 66 receptions over the last two seasons. Freiermuth has the build and traits to be an above-average blocker in the NFL, as he was throughout his career with the Nittany Lions. The Steelers have Eric Ebron signed through 2022 and the tight end position has one of the steepest learning curves, but Freiermuth has tools and history of college production to make a Year 1 impact.

Apr 30, 2021, 8:52 PM ET

 

 

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  • IHEARTFF changed the title to Dynasty & Redraft: TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers

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