4 dark-horse candidates to be Steelers pick in the first round of the draft

Azeez Ojulari #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Azeez Ojulari #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Pat Freiermuth (87). Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports /

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

I know that taking Pat Freiermuth in the first round seems a little bit rich, but he could certainly earn live up to his draft status if the Steelers used the 24th overall pick on him. Unlike most of the top tight end prospects to come out in recent years, Freiermuth is extremely well-balanced in terms of his blocking and pass-catching ability.

While Eric Ebron is still under contract for another season, Vance McDonald is recently retired, and Pittsburgh has a massive void at the tight end position. Freiermuth is a traditional ‘Y’ tight end who can line up next to the tackle and take defenders head-on. He has a few technical issues, but nobody is questioning his strength or physicality.

Freiermuth has been a nightmare over the middle of the field and he routinely boxes out smaller linebackers and safeties over the middle with his 6’5”, 258-pound frame. He isn’t an explosive athlete, but don’t underestimate how valuable a good run blocker and a reliable set of hands over the middle of the field are to a football team. On the Steelers, Freiermuth would be the first tight end of the last decade that really could have a chance to follow in Heath Miller’s footsteps.