Steelers positional grades are mostly disappointing for the 2021 season
By Tommy Jaggi
Steelers tight ends: B+
Because of the injuries along the defensive line, I could make a case that tight end was the best positional group on the team in 2021, and this was certainly no thanks to Eric Ebron. The former Pro Bowl tight end was banged up this year, but was more of a detriment when he played than anything else.
What I was thoroughly impressed with, however, was the play of both rookie Pat Freiermuth and former 2019 fifth-round pick Zach Gentry. This unexpectedly made for a very solid pairing this year. Gentry handled most of the in-line work and often acted as an extra offensive tackle thanks to his terrific size and strength, while Freiermuth played the ‘move’ tight end role.
Though Gentry was limited, he proved to be a very solid blocker with the ability to sneak off the line of scrimmage and flash good and across the middle of the field. Freiermuth, meanwhile, has the makings of one of the best, young tight ends in the NFL. Though he didn’t do a lot of in-line work, he was spectacular when blocking on the move and had perhaps the most reliable set of hands on the team.
I expect the Steelers to move forward with these two as the future one-two punch at the tight end position. Despite somewhat limited opportunities, Freiermuth had a spectacular rookie year that included 60 catches, 497 yards, and 7 touchdowns, via Pro Football Reference. He’s one of the few cornerstone players on this offense.