Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Entering the 2020 season, Pat Freiermuth was the top tight end for most analysts when looking at 2021 prospects. The emergence of Kyle Pitts out of Florida has certainly knocked him down to the number two option. Pitts could find himself being drafted inside the top 15, if not the top ten, removing him as an option for the Chiefs.
At this point, Freiermuth looks to be more of a second-round option unless a team that highly prioritizes tight end production decides to grab him a round earlier. While it would be nice to grab the Nittany Lions tight end in the second round, it’s possible that he would be long gone by the time Kansas City is on the clock on Day 2.
At Penn State, his head coach had plenty of good things to say about the young tight end as Freiermuth decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
"“We sincerely appreciate Pat’s contributions to our football program and Penn State University,” said head coach James Franklin. “He is a person of high character who has perfectly exemplified our core values. From day one, Pat totally bought into our program and helped drive our culture forward. In the locker room, his actions were recognized by his teammates as he was a two-time captain."
Listed at 6’5″, 259 pounds, Freirmuth has the ideal size for an NFL tight end with a thick frame that he utilizes well in the passing game. A knowledgeable player, he aligned all over the Penn State offense from in-line to splitting out wide. He also has a good understanding of how to settle between zones, which is something any Chiefs fan who has watched Kelce over the last several years can appreciate.
While not an elite athlete at the tight end position, there is plenty of quickness when breaking off the top of his routes to find some separation. Likely his best selling point would be his outstanding hands at the catch point. Whether he’s extending out for a pass or making a play in traffic, Freiermuth has the strong hands needed to be a reliable weapon when the offense needs to move the chains. His ability to consistently come down with the ball despite taking big hits at the catch point is something to appreciate.
Another trait that makes him a great fit for Kansas City is his ability to gain yards after the catch and win with physicality. The competitive toughness shines in this area as he consistently lowers his shoulder and bounces off tacklers at the second and third levels of defenses.
At the NFL level, Freiermuth has room to grow when it comes to run blocking. He does have experience lining up with his hand in the dirt and showed flashes of success as a backside run blocker. Unfortunately, the development as a play-side run blocker never came during his college career.
That will be an area to improve if he wants to see more playing time at the next level. His size and strength are there, but his technique needs work. Freiermuth tends to stop his feet when engaging at the point of attack leading to a loss of balance and lack of push to open up run lanes. Hand placement will be another area he will have to work on when it comes to run blocking.
Tight ends are being asked to block less and less in the NFL, as they are used more as a big, physical receiving mismatch in today’s offenses. Freiermuth fits that role well, but run blocking will still need to improve if he wants a larger role. One concern that will need to be addressed in the vetting process will be his shoulder injury that ended his 2020 season at Penn State and required surgery. If the team feels good about his recovery, he could be another great mismatch for Andy Reid to play with as he continues to change up the offense and stay ahead of defenses year after year.