Pat Freiermuth projects as an impact receiving tight end at the professional level. Freiermuth has a prototypical build for the tight end position and ample ceiling as a blocker to continue to develop into a quality asset with his hand in the dirt in the run game. But today’s NFL is ultimately rooted in the passing game and tight ends are the new-age mismatch weapons that put defensive play-callers in a bind. Freiermuth can be that caliber of a receiver thanks to his blend of size, hands, route-running, and physicality in the secondary. Freiermuth burst onto the scene as a freshman at Penn State and incrementally became a bigger piece of the passing offense, culminating in 2020 with several high-production contests before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely and forced him to undergo surgery. The medicals here will be something NFL teams must vet, as well as exploring his lack of development as a blocker. As Freiermuth has developed his body and added muscle during his time at Penn State, the assumption was that he would continue to progress as an in-line blocker; but we never really saw that leap in that chapter of his game, even once he returned for the 2020 season. But Freiermuth’s value to an NFL franchise won’t be rooted in run blocking; it will be in his versatility as a receiver and the mismatches he’ll win in coverage. That is where the value for tight ends lies anyway, so the deductions on Freiermuth’s pre-draft evaluation for blocking are only marginal. He still feels destined to be an impact player in an NFL offense.
Ideal Role: Hybrid role with a primary focus on F alignment (early in career).
Scheme Fit: 12-personnel heavy offensive system, spread concepts to isolate in space.
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Michigan State (2019), Minnesota (2019), Indiana (2019), Memphis (2019), Indiana (2020), Ohio State (2020), Nebraska (2020)
Best Game Studied: Michigan State (2019)
Worst Game Studied: Memphis (2019)
Hands: Freiermuth is a sure-handed receiver who illustrates a terrific ability to catch the football away from his frame. He’s not bothered by having to elevate vertically, nor does having defenders around him deter him from getting hands on the ball cleanly over the middle of the field. Success as a receiver is not just limited to square to his quarterback, either; Freiermuth has made graceful catches down the field in over the shoulder targets.
Route Running: Freiermuth does well from both flexed alignment and from in-line to make sure he’s getting a clean release up the field and tempering his speeds to allow him the chance to accelerate away from defenders in man coverage. He’s not shy about cutting his routes to step on toes and get a little bump at the top of the break to help with separation, either. Freiermuth has found ample success slicing out of split zone and into the flats, running verticals, out-and-up routes, and seam targets as well—he can win to all three levels with the right mismatch.
Versatility: Make no mistake, Freiermuth is a receiving tight end first and foremost. He’s functional as a blocker in many ways, but appears to have remained hesitant in fully buying into that role; so he’ll either need a little extra kick with his blocking mentality or he may be charged with being a more sparing presence in the box at the next level. He’s got ample potential to continue to develop and become more effective. Cut-and-slice blocks are where he has the most success to eliminate the end man on the line of scrimmage; but there’s value in cracking down on linebackers in outside run from his flexed position here and now, too.
Competitive Toughness: Freiermuth will check all the boxes you want as a target in the passing game; he’s tough to bring down in the open field and not afraid to drop the hammer on a safety who tries to square him up. He’s a monster at the catch point and a nightmare to get smothered once he’s picked up the ball in flight. He is more than willing and able to rumble for added hidden yardage, too. You do wish he illustrated more pop/power in his hands and a little more tenacity stepping down onto drive blocks in the run game.
Ball Skills: There’s plenty of “bailout” potential for Freiermuth; he’s had plenty of reps of saving his quarterback from an ill-advised or errant throw to simply scoop the football out of mid-air regardless. He’s got the potential to be an accuracy eraser and, as a result, should be quick to build trust with his quarterback in clutch situations and in congested space. Freiermuth has natural receiving skills that aren’t limited to only certain conditions.
Blocking Skills: There’s all the potential needed here for Freiermuth to be a true “traditional” tight end at the pro level. He’s sufficient enough to not be blacklisted from playing with his hand in the dirt, but he’s not advanced himself to the same degree and intensity as a blocker as he has as a receiver. There are some reps where everything looks good from his base and posture to his hands, but he’s only generating stalemates. Then there are other reps where he’s soft with the inside hand and leverage and lets defenders crash across his face.
Football IQ: Early impact at the college level speaks to his feel for the game as a receiver. He’s got a strong sense of bowing his routes in order to craft better throwing windows. Freiermuth offers a strong pedigree from Penn State, although he doesn’t have the same hand usage as a blocker or footwork to slide and stay engaged to a high degree to be considered polished.
Run After Catch: Freiermuth is plenty athletic and offers opportunities to run away from linebackers in space if he’s able to slip behind them in coverage. He’s not overly creative and there’s not a lot of wiggle to his game, but he’s physical with the football and Freiermuth has bullied tacklers with a stiff arm on angular challenges from the side. His career is littered with big runs after the catch in large part due to deception and savvy releases and route speeds.
Pass Protection: There’s a tough balance to walk with Freiermuth in that he’s so valuable in the passing game that you’re nearly miscasting him to call him into pass protection with any level of frequency. That said, he’s best served here as a “help” blocker and chip releases before releasing into the flats would be his best-served role as a pass protector. He’s got the length and size to develop further, but he’s not a finished product here yet.
Big-Play Ability: Freiermuth should be considered a “go-to” option in the red area with his versatility and how effective he has proven to be to create separation in tight spaces, be it with his catch radius or his physicality. Freiermuth isn’t necessarily a field-stretching presence, but his ability to win contested situations will jolt the offense with energy.
Prospect Comparison: Hunter Henry (2016 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers)
TDN Consensus: 81.50 / 100
Joe Marino: 83.00/100
Jordan Reid: 80.50/100
Drae Harris: 80.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 82.50/100
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022