Freiermuth would be perfect fit with Pats

Photo by Mark SeldersPenn State’s Pat Freiermuth (87) of Merrimac catches a TD pass against Ohio State. He announced Sunday he’ll be turning pro.

Pat Freiermuth picked an interesting time to let the world know he was turning professional.

About halftime of the New England Patriots’ debacle in Miami, which ended up a 22-12 loss. Another game the Patriots tight ends combined for zero catches.

Ever since he broke out as one of the nation’s top tight ends at Penn State, it’s been fun to fantasize about the former Pentucket and Brooks School great winding up with the Patriots.

It makes all the sense in the world, right? Freiermuth has all the tools to succeed at the next level, the Patriots still need help at the position, and how great would it be for a hometown kid with the nickname “Baby Gronk” to earn a shot with his childhood team?

Now that Merrimac’s Freiermuth has officially declared for the NFL Draft — and now that the Patriots are officially out of the playoff hunt — the possibility is no longer a fantasy.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound tight end is widely regarded as one of the top tight end prospects in the country, so if things play out a certain way, it’s plausible that in a couple of months Freiermuth could be suiting up for rookie camp in New England.

Could it really happen? Should it?

First things first, do the Patriots actually have a need for Freiermuth? On one hand, New England has gotten virtually no production out of the tight end position since Rob Gronkowski retired. In 2019 the Patriots’ tight ends combined for only 37 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns. This year the team’s tight ends only have 14 catches for 207 yards and no touchdowns.

For reference, Gronkowski had 47 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns in his final year with the Patriots, which at the time was considered a major disappointment.

On the other hand, New England did invest heavily in the position last spring, drafting rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the third round.

Those two have not been productive, but that’s not unusual for rookie tight ends who often need time to develop, so would the Patriots be willing to invest another high draft pick on a tight end one year later?

Let’s say the Patriots decide they are. Would Freiermuth even be a realistic possibility? Obviously we won’t know exactly where New England is picking until after the season, but as of now it’s looking like the team should wind up somewhere in the mid-to-high teens.

Barring a surprise, the 22-year-old junior should still be on the board in that range.

A look through the latest mock drafts posted on various draft sites generally have Freiermuth as a late first-round to mid second-round pick, and the fact that he is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery could cause him to fall later than he might otherwise (which would give him something else in common with Gronkowski, who fell to the second round due to injuries of his own).

The Patriots obviously couldn’t pass up one of the top quarterbacks if they somehow got the chance, and it would be tough to say no to a guy like LSU receiver J’Marr Chase or Penn State linebacker and former Freiermuth teammate Micah Parsons.

But if no top 10 guys are on the table? Honestly, who knows?

Getting to play for New England would be special, and there are a lot of compelling reasons why the arrangement could be a match made in heaven.


TWITTER: @MacCerullo.

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