It’s a given that the University of Florida’s Kyle Pitts will be the first tight end taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. But he may not be the only tight end whose name is announced Thursday evening by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Penn State junior Pat Freiermuth could sneak into Round 1 as well, although most mock drafts say he will go in the first half of Round 2.
College: Penn State
Position: Tight End
Hometown: Merrimac, MA
Weight: 251 LBS
Hands: 9 7/8″
Draft Projection: Early in Round 2
During his three seasons as a Nittany Lion, Freiermuth was a true threat in the passing game. Over 29 games, he caught 92 passes for 1,185 yards and 16 touchdowns, the latter a record for a Penn State tight end.
Freiermuth’s strengths, according to NFL.com, include his competitiveness and self-confidence, “build-up speed,” an ability to ward off tacklers with a stiff arm, blocking potential to become a true Y tight end, and a “coveted combination of size (6’5, 251) and athletic ability.”
There aren’t many weaknesses. Experts mention inconsistent footwork to sustain second-level blocks and that he can sometimes be slowed by physical coverage. But the major concern is that his final season at Penn State ended after four games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery; will he be 100% soon?
Bottom line: Pat Freiermuth, who earned the moniker “Baby Gronk” thanks to his No. 87 jersey and playing style, is a throwback tight end with good hands, strength and power who should have a productive NFL career. Several mock drafts have Freiermuth being selected 39th overall by the Carolina Panthers or at either No. 33 or 45 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
–Jim “Chet” Chesko, Philly Pressbox Radio Co-host
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