2 realistic TE draft targets that could finally replace Greg Olsen
Pat Freiermuth – Penn State
Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth is an intriguing option if he falls into the second round. With an NFL frame and a mix of size and athleticism that is still coveted by some in the league today.
Freiermuth shows great route running and recognition especially on shallow crossing routes when released from the line of scrimmage and post/slants from the slot. However, the big-bodied target tends to stick to his routes a little too religiously at times and shows a lack of improvisation skills when a play breaks down. More so running a route than looking for an opening in the defense.
While Freiermuth does run his routes accurately, he more so lumbers down the field than running them, not getting the kind of separation you might want to see at the next level. He doesn’t show that quick turn to get defenders off him, tends to stop and stand at the end of routes with defenders right on his back, which makes any throw his way more difficult to complete.
With that being said, Freiermuth has the strength and willingness to take the big hit and hold onto the ball while also having just enough speed to be a deep threat. And once the tight end catches the ball, he shows great vision and a quick cut, even if there’s a little too much flash and not enough gain at points.
Pat Freiermuth would be an upgrade for the Carolina Panthers at TE.
With how the Carolina Panthers struggled in receiving from the position last season, even with those liabilities, Freiermuth would be an instant improvement.
Apart from pass-catching, the tight end’s other job is blocking and that is where some liabilities crop in. Truly great blockers show consistency and willingness to finish out plays to keep the defender in front of them and Freiermuth struggles with that at times.
While Freiermuth is a good blocker, he shows a lack of enthusiasm when finishing at points and relies more on his strength and athleticism to keep defenders in front of him instead of natural skill or instinct. Something NFL pass rushers will take advantage of.
However, with his ability in the passing game, he will draw defenders out of the box and free up the run in that way instead.
With an injury limiting Freiermuth to only four games last season, his stock may drop just enough to give the Panthers a shot in a later round. And with his receiving stats eclipsing Ian Thomas in just two games, the former Nittany Lion would be a fine addition.
Given enough time to develop, Freiermuth could turn into a Jason Witten type. A guy who can get you just enough to move the chains consistently using his strength to just run over smaller defenders, but isn’t a constant deep ball threat,
Freiermuth would bring a jump ball receiver to a Panthers team that has plenty of speed but no size on offense. A true red-zone threat that has been noticeably absent for quite some time. With that being said, however, the team would still have to look for a replacement for Chris Manhertz’s skill as a blocker if he does not improve in that area.