The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Which Steeler is most likely to make his first Pro Bowl in 2017?
I figured it would be a good time to throw out a Pro Bowl question given that we are still pretty fresh off of its most recent edition. The Steelers had quite a bit of representation this season, even if the majority of their players recognized for the honor chose not to show up.
Pittsburgh had six players in all deemed Pro Bowlers this year, including Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Ryan Shazier. Roethlisberger, Brown, and Pouncey all have earned Pro-Bowl distinction five times. Bell and DeCastro earned their second honors this season. This was Shazier’s first appearance after he replaced another player.
The Steelers have had four players over the course of the past three seasons make their first Pro Bowl. Shazier’s first came for the 2016 season. DeCastro earned his first recognition during the 2015 season. Both Bell and Lawrence Timmons received the distinction for the first time following the 2014 season.
It’s not a guarantee that that streak continues. But the Steelers do certainly have enough individual talent to make it a legitimate possibility. If it does come to pass that another Steelers player breaks the Pro-Bowl barrier for the first time in 2017, who is it most likely to be?
Will it be right tackle Marcus Gilbert, whom many within the organization and who cover the team believe has been a snub for two years running now? How about Martavis Bryant, provided that he is reinstated and is able to play for the full season?
Cameron Heyward has been pushing the envelope for a couple of seasons now with the exception of his derailed 2016 campaign. Stephon Tuitt is also supremely talented, yet their position is a difficult one to crack for the Pro-Bowl roster.
How about Bud Dupree? Is it time for a breakout year? Or maybe one of the second-year players? Javon Hargrave may not play enough snaps, but both Sean Davis and Artie Burns exhibited some takeaway abilities during their rookie season. The Steelers haven’t sent a cornerback to the Pro Bowl in many years.