Kyle Pitts was the consensus top tight end prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft but Pat Freiermuth was no consolation prize and the Jacksonville Jaguars were in a position to take him with one of their two second-round picks. In fact, they told him they were going to take him with the 45th overall selection before backing tracking and choosing offensive tackle Walker Littler instead.
Freiermuth recently appeared on Breneman Shows Up and talked about his draft experience. The former Nittany Lion shared with host Adam Breneman that the Jags told him they would take him at No. 45 but ended up not getting the call. He then thought was going to land with the Tennessee Titans before ultimately going to the Steelers at No. 55.
"So I shut my ringer off, and my dad went down to do the recycling or whatever because I went to my house, and my phone started buzzing from Pittsburgh. I really thought it was [Nick] Bowers calling me. I got a new phone, and so I answered it. He said, “This is Mike Tomlin.” I’m like, “What?” And so I was like, “Oh, it worked.” I guess I got drafted by Pittsburgh."
Freiermuth then tells Brennaman that he never got an explanation from the Jaguars but was pleased with how the situation unfolded, “I’m happy I didn’t go there”. In the end, things worked out for the Penn State standout. He went on to have a productive rookie campaign in Pittsburgh, hauling in 60 receptions for 497 yards with seven touchdowns. This becomes an even more impressive feat when you consider he was catching passes from an aging Ben Roethlisberger and makes you wonder how he would fare with a quarterback who wasn’t in the twilight of his NFL career. Here’s the whole clip in case you want to watch it:
The Jaguars could be better off with Walker Little in the long run.
Telling Freiermuth they were going to draft him before ultimately not doing it is a bad look for the Jaguars. Why would they not honor a commitment they had already made? Why didn’t they at least call him to apologize? Maybe there was a valid reason not to draft him and a call to explain what happened would have cleared things up.
Having said that, passing on Friermuth to take Little could work out in the long run. The tight end would have been a great addition to the Jaguars’ offense but the Little showed promise as a rookie, especially towards the end of the year when started two games and allowed just one total pressure on 71 pass-blocking snaps. Moreover, the former Stanford Cardinal posted Pro Football Focus overall grades of 77.2 and 70.5 in those two starts.
While Little doesn’t currently have a spot in the starting lineup, he’s simply too good to ride the bench. The Jags’ coaching staff must find a spot for him and plug him there. With Cam Robinson firmly entrenched on the left side, maybe he could compete with Jawaan Taylor for the right tackle job in 2022.
Passing on Freiermuth to take Little wasn’t necessarily a bad move unless the Jags waste his potential. He has the talent to become a mainstay of their offensive line. It’s up now to them to make the most of the pick and put him in a position to succeed.