Steelers Rookie Draws High Praise From Mike Tomlin, Veteran Teammate

Mike Tomlin

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last August Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden was the first player to predict that rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool was going to be “a problem” for defensive backs across the NFL. Haden proved to be prophetic, as Claypool went on to have a standout rookie season in which he caught 62 passes for 873 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. That includes a record-setting outing in Week 5, for which he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week thanks to four touchdowns and 116 total yards.

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Eric Ebron: Pat Freiermuth is ‘Silky Smooth’

On Thursday, Pittsburgh’s 2021 second-round pick drew praise reminiscent of that afforded to Claypool, even if not quite as succinct. This time the teammate in question was Steelers starting tight end Eric Ebron.

“Pat’s going to be good, man. Pat’s going to be pretty good,” Ebron said, via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m excited to see him grow as a tight end. … To me, he’s just a smooth playmaker. He’s silky smooth. He doesn’t look like he’s trying too hard, and he’s capable of a lot,” concluded Ebron.

“Please refrain from jokes that Ebron should know what that looks like, at least when it comes to blocking,” added Batko. “That phase of the game is still a question for Freiermuth, too, but for now all indications are that he’s going to be heard from as a route-runner as soon as this season.”

Mike Tomlin ‘Excited’ About Freiermuth’s Development

Now if you want to take Ebron’s praise with a grain of salt, no one would blame you. After all, the eight-year veteran went on to say that he sees the pair “dominating” when they line up on the field together in “12” personnel.

But it should be noted that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has also publicly praised Freiermuth for his early efforts.

On Thursday Tomlin told the media, “I just see Pat out there working his tail off and making plays and having a good offseason,” he said, “and I’m excited about that.”

That certainly qualifies as effusive preseason praise for any Steelers rookie, and is doubly notable insofar as training camp is still a month away.

It appears that the shoulder injury that limited Freiermuth to four games in his final season with the Nittany Lions is no longer an issue. Now the Massachusetts native has a chance to build on the production he evinced at Penn State (PSU), where he set a school record for tight ends with 16 touchdown receptions, while also catching at least one pass in 29 consecutive games.

All told, the two-time team captain played in 30 games at PSU and contributed a total of 92 receptions for 1,185 yards. After the 2020 season he was named the Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year, the first ever PSU tight end to win the award.

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