We have reached the finish line.
First of all, I want to thank every single one of you readers for taking the time to read this series throughout the last month or so.
I know it’s been a slog to get here, but I truly appreciate you all taking the time to read and interact in the comments section.
Fortunately, this has created quite a bit of discussion to carry us to training camp, which was the goal of this series.
But now, it’s time to wrap it up. Without further ado, here’s No. 3-1.
No. 24 – Jordan Berry
No. 23 – Ross Cockrell
No. 22 – Eli Rogers
No. 21 – Jesse James
No. 20 – Artie Burns
No. 19 – Vince Williams
No. 18 – Bud Dupree
No. 17 – Chris Boswell
No. 16 – Ramon Foster
No. 15 – Alejandro Villanueva
No. 14 – Javon Hargrave
No. 13 – James Harrison
No. 12 – Sean Davis
No. 11 – Martavis Bryant
No. 10 – David DeCastro
No. 9 – Mike Mitchell
No. 8 – Maurkice Pouncey
No. 7 – Cam Heyward
No. 6 – Marcus Gilbert
No. 5 – Stephon Tuitt
No. 4 – Ryan Shazier
No. 3 – Le’Veon Bell, RB
I know that Bell just turned down a lucrative contract extension, but the fact of the matter is that he’s a Steelers running back for at least this season and next season, so there’s not much to be worried about for the Steelers’ current championship window.
Still recovering from groin surgery from the injury he suffered in the AFC Championship Game, Bell will likely be eased back into things during training camp and the preseason, but make no mistake: Bell will once again be used heavily in the run game and passing game for the Steelers this season.
He’s the best all-around running back in the NFL, hands down, and he’ll be in the MVP discussion yet again this year. Here’s hoping he can stay fully healthy for all 16 games this season so that the Steelers can challenge the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders for the No. 1 seed.
No. 2 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Last season, Big Ben held down the No. 1 spot in this series, but this season he slides down to No. 2 despite not having a drop in play.
Granted, his home/road splits drive me nuts, and if you haven’t yet — please read Sean McKaveney’s study here — but he’s still an elite quarterback in today’s NFL and consistently has the Steelers in position to contend year after year.
The retirement conversations are a concern, as is his inability to stay healthy for a full 16 games a year, but he’s a very important piece to the Steelers’ title hopes now, and into the immediate future with the time he has left in his career.
No. 1 – Antonio Brown, WR
Brown might not be the best receiver in football (I personally think that’s Atlanta’s Julio Jones, but it’s incredibly close), but he’s the best receiver in the AFC, hands down, and will once again put up massive numbers, especially considering Martavis Bryant returns to line up opposite him this season.
Yes, he’s selfish on and off the field at times, but he’s an elite playmaker, so he gets some leeway in that aspect from me.
Expect another 100-catch season with 1,400 yards and double-digit touchdowns. If things break the right way, all three players at the top of the list in this series should be in MVP discussions this fall and winter.
No. 3 – Cam Heyward
No. 2 – Antonio Brown
No. 1 – Ben Roethlisberger