Last week, Dave Bryan shared Football Outsiders’ selection of Stephon Tuitt as the most underrated player on the Pittsburgh Steelers. That isn’t a bad choice on a national level but in Pittsburgh, every fan knows how valuable he is.
So locally (keep that in mind), who are the most valuable players on the team? Let’s hear from you but first, I’ll share some of my own.
Robert Golden – On a local level, he’s driving that bus. So many people view him as someone who is just biding his time until Sean Davis passes him up. And while Davis could down the road, Golden will be a tough out this year. Good luck poking holes in his game. The ones who try usually just offer up some vague phrase about coverage deficiencies or inexperience.
I went back and looked in his game. I was viewing it with a critical eye in my “One Step To Take” series. And I really struggled to come up with an answer. Golden’s already shown he is capable of doing everything for this defense. Support the run. Be a physical, reliable tackler. Make plays on the football. Line up everywhere. He doesn’t get nearly the credit he should and it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him start all 16 games.
Ramon Foster – Dude still doesn’t get the love he should. He’s the 2001 Toyota Corolla, the car you get and never have to worry about. He’s started 74 of the last 80 games and on a unit that has been beaten and battered over the years, his reliability stands out even more.
But he’s not athletic enough. That’s the most common complaint when it comes to Foster. Yes, compared to Maurkice Pouncey or David DeCastro, Foster has the speed of, well, that same Corolla, it’s rarely an issue on the field. Being a great trap blocker aside, there’s nothing Foster is too unathletic to do in this scheme.
Marcus Gilbert – He’s lower on this list because so many people rightfully recognized how strong of a season in 2015. But still, he’s an offensive linemen, and most fans gravitated towards Pouncey or DeCastro. Unlike Three’s Company, fans weren’t always ready for him.
Nationally, he’s definitely overlooked and should be considered one of the league’s top five right tackles.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Now, I know there is very much a strong presence of the Heyward-Bey fan club on this site. And that’s more than ok by me. But largely, I bet most of Steelers’ Nation views him as that fast guy with the concrete hands.
There is a kernel of truth there but he’s evolved into a top special teamer, a deep threat, and a leader in that locker room. I wasn’t even completely aware of that latter, aside from the cliche old = mentor. But talking to Issac Blakeney and Marcus Tucker and it’s clear he and Markus Wheaton are the two vocal leaders in that room, Antonio Brown leading by example.
I’ll also continue to stress the threat he is on kick coverage, the first man down and wrecking blocking schemes.