The Pittsburgh Steelers have a star in the makings. Here’s why Pat Freiermuth is now the second-highest-graded tight end in the NFL in 2022.
We can’t sit here and pretend it’s been the most fun year to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. After sneaking into the playoffs in 2022, Mike Tomlin’s team sits at 5-8 on the season with just a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs. The results have been far from what we hoped for and lackluster performances have sucked the hope from many fans.
It can be rough trying to find positives when it comes to a bad football team, but there is some hope on the horizon. The Steelers do have some young promising players they can build their future around. One of those is second-year tight end, Pat Freiermuth.
After an excellent rookie season that included 497 yards and 7 touchdowns despite beginning the season as a backup, Freiermuth has already emerged as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Freiermuth’s 80.7 overall grade ranks second in the league behind only the great Travis Kelce. This slots him just above players like Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert, while his grade is significantly higher than players like George Kittle and T.J. Hockenson.
When you examine the film, it’s really not that hard to understand why. Despite playing in a poorly-designed offense with questionable target quality from his quarterbacks, Freiermuth has been a force in the passing game. He ranks third in the NFL in games with 75+ receiving yards despite missing time early in the year with a concussion.
Steelers have a great young tight end in Pat Freiermuth
It might be a bit premature to rank Pat Freiermuth as the second-best tight end in the NFL, despite his high grade this year. But that doesn’t mean that he’s very far away. Personally, I think the former second-round pick is firmly in the second tier behind Kelce — a tier that, right now, only consists of Frieremuth, Andrews, Goedert, and maybe David Njoku and George Kittle.
As time goes on and he develops chemistry more chemistry with Kenny Pickett, it’s reasonable to believe that Freiermuth will become even more efficient and productive. Though he doesn’t have elite athletic traits, he’s an incredibly natural football player with soft hands and a violent streak after the catch.
In time, I wouldn’t be shocked if Freiermuth became a player who consistently finished near the top of the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns among tight ends each year. Maybe there are even a few 1,000-yard seasons in his future — something Health Miller wasn’t able to accomplish during his 11-year career in Pittsburgh.
Freiermuth isn’t a finished product yet and he clearly has work to do as a blocker. However, it’s encouraging to know that the Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best young players in the league at his position and Pat Freiermuth could prove to be a major factor over the middle of the field for years to come.