Rookie Rundown: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

Rookie Rundown: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

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The traditional “Y” tight end is slowly going extinct in the NFL, but we’ll see it live on for the immediate future. There’s zero doubt Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the king of this year’s tight ends class (and most years, for that matter), but Penn Stater Pat Freiermuth is not terribly far behind.

It all comes down to what teams look for in the position. These two couldn’t be much farther apart in style of play as Pitts is so freakishly athletic that the more well-rounded Freiermuth lags behind in luster.

A highly decorated high school star, Freiermuth contributed immediately as a true freshman for Penn State. He scored eight times on just 26 catches and would receive an honorable mention for All-Big Ten as well as being named to the Freshman All-American team in 2018.

Surprisingly, Freiermuth was not among the 2019 finalists for the John Mackey Award, which is given to the top tight end in the nation. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and was named Penn State’s MVP on offense.

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 251 pounds
40 time: TBD

A shoulder injury that required surgery after his fourth game in 2020 ended Freiermuth’s junior season, and he did not lift or run at his school’s pro day.

Table: Pat Freiermuth NCAA stats (2018-20)

Year
School
Class
Gm*
Rec
Yds
Avg
TD
2018
Penn State
FR
12
26
368
14.2
8
2019
Penn State
SO
13
43
507
11.8
7
2020
Penn State
JR
4
23
310
13.5
1
Career
92
1,185
12.9
16

*includes postseason/bowl games

No tight end in Penn State history has scored more touchdowns than Freiermuth’s 16, and he proved to be not only efficient but a dangerous weapon down the field.

Pros

  • Played all over the field as an H-back, slot tight end and in the traditional “Y” role
  • Great body control going up for the ball
  • Quality hands and doesn’t let too many get into the pads
  • Size-athleticism combo will immediately catch a scout’s eye
  • Devastating stiff arm
  • Plays with palpable enthusiasm and energy
  • Displays pretty good spatial awareness for the sticks and soft spots in coverage
  • Confident and competitive — was a two-time team captain
  • Above-average natural blocking skills
  • Tough to bring down in the open field — bullies defenders and has just enough of a stutter step to pick up a few more yards
  • Background playing basketball offers coaches some fundamental tools to improve
  • Considerable upside for improvement

Cons

  • Good but not great athlete who sometimes struggles to shake physical defenders
  • Shoulder injury needs to check out
  • Doesn’t always use his size to his advantage vs. defenders — needs to rely more on his hoops background to box out and keep defenders away from incoming targets
  • Most of his room for growth comes as a blocker — generally gets by on combination of athleticism and willingness. Displays flashes of elite blocking potential and can be molded for improvement by a quality coaching staff

Fantasy football outlook

People will compare Freiermuth in ways to Rob Gronkowski, and some of it is fair, but a more apt comparison is a blend of Jason Witten and Zach Ertz in terms of style and potential career trajectory. Gronkowski will go down as one of the best players at his position and has been in many ways revolutionary for his position.

Witten had a lunch-pail career that will land him in Canton, but for many years he was the top receiver in Dallas due to his crafty routes and above-average athleticism. Ertz is a blend of the those attributes, too, but is probably on pace for the “Hall of Very Good” instead of collecting a yellow jacket. There’s an argument he belongs, but it’s not a slam dunk like with Gronk or Witten.

Loft comparisons, for sure, and the Penn State standout deserves scrutiny, too. Keep all of that in mind as Freiermuth is far from a finished product. He has 29 appearances under his belt, and it remains unclear how the NFL offseason will look for rookies early on. Tight end is typically one of the positions that is slower to develop at the next level when it comes to finding fantasy football success, Freiermuth’s trajectory should be no different.

He is expected to be a second-round selection, but the injury could cause him to fall into Round 3. There are plenty of teams in need of the position, but the best immediate fits would be the Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints.

It’s entirely possible the team that drafts him isn’t on that list, because several other clubs have potential situations developing. Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles Chargers and the New York Giants all have viable starters in place but could be in the hunt to improve for beyond 2021.

Freiermuth figures to become one of the staples at his position in fantasy football as he finds his way over the next several years. The landscape is currently top-heavy, and he’s capable of battling his way into the top six or so fantasy tight ends by the end of 2022 if everything around him lines up properly.

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