If the college football season goes ahead as planned in 2020, we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about receivers and tight ends. That’s where there appears to be an early round strength in the 2021 draft class. For the second year in a row the pass-catches are going to dominate the headlines.
Comparisons are never 100% but Freiermuth has some Gronk tendencies and a legit chance to be a high pick in 2021. Purely in terms of the way he runs routes, uses his size and can beat you in the short and long range — it’s very Gronk-esque.
He has a fantastic ability to create separation on routes working from the slot. He’ll shake off covering cornerbacks or linebackers with a shimmy at the top of the stem and wrong-foot defenders to create wide open throwing lanes. That’s not easy to do at 260lbs and he’s going to be a nightmare matchup at the next level.
When you can put your big tight end in the slot and have him win in the same way a smaller receiver can — that’s a dangerous proposition.
Freiermuth finds the soft spot in zone superbly. He’s very difficult to cover running the seam. He works to get open very well. He’s really difficult to cover on a simple Y-stick route where he heads straight to the sideline. You create the free release in design and once he’s in position he can just wall off any defender, he can contort his body to make any catch, he tracks it superbly and extends his hands and you just can’t get around him.
He also knows how to help his quarterback. There’s a game against Minnesota where he ran a Y-stick to the sideline but lost early position (they run it so much defenders will read it). He just broke off the linebacker to find the space in behind and present his QB with an open target for a big gain.
He creates easy separation when split out wide running a slant. His short-area quickness is so impressive it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t run a blazing three-cone to secure a high grade. If you don’t disrupt his route early and give him a free release he will beat you time and time again. He and Pitts are very similar in that regard.
If you watch a lot of the tape it’s noticeable how often he’s open. Sometimes that’s good scheming but he’s also really savvy. He doesn’t stop moving, he settles down well. He’s a natural tight end weapon.
Freiermuth finishes his runs. He absolutely hammered a Memphis defender in the Cotton Bowl. Just ran over him going for the end zone, Beast Mode style…
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth doing his best George Kittle impression in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. pic.twitter.com/2gxb3ruATv
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) December 28, 2019
He also finished a run against Michigan State with defenders draped all over him to fight his way into the end zone. He’s clearly tough and physical and enjoys mixing it up.
He has good hands. As a redshirt freshman he had a great one-handed touchdown against Ohio State. He gains position and he’s so big it’s really hard to get around him to play the ball. He plucks the ball out of the air and can high-point. He presents his hands to the football. So often Penn State have him settle down at the sticks, box-out and present a safe target.
Penn State used him as a H-back or slot receiver a lot so there’s not a ton of evidence of him in-line blocking. There’s little concern here though. Just looking at his frame and his attitude. He’s so dynamic as a pass-catcher you can work on any of the blocking duties he needs to master. On WR-screens he reaches out and connects with his target in space which is difficult to do. Against Minnesota last season he delivered the key block from the H-back position to spring a 45-yard running touchdown. There aren’t going to be any concerns about his blocking. If you can do this in space, you’re going to be just fine…
Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth is out here making pancakes 💪🏼
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) May 5, 2020
He ran a 4.44 short shuttle at SPARQ which is about where he needs to be. The key will be a three-cone that is quicker than a 7.10. For some reason, despite the clear data, not enough people focus on the agility testing at tight end. It’s a major indicator of NFL potential and early round draft potential.
Freiermuth has a classic TE frame and while he isn’t quite the same athlete as Kyle Pitts he does have the agility and the subtle tricks and technique to create separation and he’s more equipped to block as a sixth man at the line. He can make the easy conversions you need on third down, the big plays at the second level, he can bust seams and he’ll be a major red zone threat.
Both players have definite first round potential.
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