When it comes to the most impactful position coaches on the staff for the Pittsburgh Steelers, few — if any — can touch tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts in recent seasons.
Roberts, who was hired ahead of the 2021 season to replace longtime tight ends coach James Daniel, who retired, has come in and had a hand in the development of second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth, fourth-year tight end Zach Gentry, and most recently rookie tight end Connor Heyward in his two seasons in Pittsburgh, making the tight end room one of the strengths of a roster in transition.
Though he’s not a big name currently in the coaching ranks, his tight end room has developed rather quickly under his guidance the last two seasons in Pittsburgh. That’s not much of a surprise overall, based on his body of work in the NFL as a position coach and a former NFL tight end in his own right with the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys.
For Freiermuth, who sat down with Steelers.com’s Dale Lolley Tuesday in a one-on-one for the team site, Roberts caring about each of his players’ success and his full understanding of the position and what it takes to be successful in the NFL has been huge.
“Best coach in the world,” Freiermuth said of Roberts, according to video via Steelers.com. “He’s always in my ear about, you know, doing the extra things cuz he’s played in the NFL and he knows what it takes to be successful. It’s awesome to have a coach that cares that much, to have a coach that cares much about as your success as I care about my success.
“He’s a great coach and, and a great friend.”
That friendship with Roberts and Freiermuth dates back to before Freiermuth became a Steeler with the 55th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Penn State. Roberts was in attendance at Penn State’s Pro Day and was very visible throughout that day, telegraphing the organization’s interest in the Penn State product.
Since they officially became a coach-player pairing, Freiermuth has made NFL history, becoming just the second tight end in NFL history with 60+ catches in his first two seasons, joining former Eagles’ tight end Keith Jackson to put up those stats in his first two years in the NFL at the position.
Roberts is arguably one of the most important coaches on the Steelers’ staff, too. He’s right there alongside defensive line coach Karl Dunbar as far as impact and overall development within his position group goes. Steelers Depot’s own Jonathan Heitritter called Roberts the Steelers’ most underrated position coach during the 2022 season, and it’s hard to not agree with it.
He’s done a remarkable job with Freiermuth, Gentry and Heyward. Though Gentry is set to hit free agency this offseason, which could open up a hole at the TE2 role, there doesn’t seem to be much stressed caused from that potential development, in large part due to the belief of Roberts’ coaching and overall ability to develop guys at the position, not just in Pittsburgh, but in the NFL in general. That includes having the likes of Dwayne Allen, Colby Fleener, and Jack Doyle of the Colts, Mercedes Lewis of the Jaguars, and Kellen Winslow II of the Browns and Buccaneers on his resume.