Wouldn’t you know it, even months after the 2015 regular season ended, people still think Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is really good. Pro Football Focus has published the final installment of their top 101 players in the league right now, and Brown finished third on the list, the second offensive player listed, behind J.J. Watt and Rob Gronkowski.
But he wasn’t alone, to be sure, as running back Le’Veon Bell also landed at the number 10 spot, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished at number 21. Those rankings should be viewed as only all the more impressive considering that both of their most recent seasons were curtailed by injuries.
Bell’s season in particular, of course, was truncated, as he suffered a torn MCL and PCL in the first half of his sixth game. He had been the driving force of the offense for most of his playing time in 2015, however, because that just happened to coincide with most of the snaps that Roethlisberger missed.
Roethlisberger suffered a sprained MCL and a bone bruise in the third game of the season, Bell’s first game, and the quarterback went on to miss the next four games. He later missed time in a few other games later in the season, and one might imagine that his injuries could have played a role in his turnover rate skyrocketing last year compared to his most recent seasons.
On Brown, PFF writes in part:
He is able to take apart some of the best cover men in the game, and would have put up simply mind-bending numbers had his quarterback stayed healthy this season. His projected numbers with a fully-healthy Roethlisberger would be 158 receptions (all-time record), 2,114 receiving yards (all-time record) and 15 touchdowns. He may not be the physical freak that teams are looking for when they draft a receiver, but he is the best receiver in the game right now playing the best football of his career.
Bell received similarly effusive praise:
He averaged 3.4 yards per carry after contact, which is more than C.J. Spiller averaged in total yards per carry. When you add in his work as a receiver, there is no more complete back than Bell, who can play all three downs and be a real threat in every facet of the game in a way other backs on this list can’t be. Right now Bell is the best RB in the game, and we could see something spectacular if he is on the field every game in the 2016 season.
Finally, for Roethlisberger, they wrote in part:
Roethlisberger would have been firmly in the MVP conversation in 2015 had he played in every game, and even against the league’s best defense in the playoffs, he was able to put up 339 passing yards and complete 64.9 percent of his passes. His career has been remarkably consistent, and he shows no sign of dipping in form, while the rest of that class of 2004 have begun to struggle. Roethlisberger should be seen as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, not just a top-10 guy.