Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit unveiled a hefty project yesterday over on the Monday Morning Quarterback subsection of the site. When the dust settled, 14 Pittsburgh Steelers made the list. We’ll give you each and some snippets along the way.
341. James Harrison
Benoit credited the Steelers and Harrison for using him effectively, and Harrison for taking care of his body, to let him still be successful going into his age-39 season. 341 does seem a little low for an edge rusher who does it all: rush the QB, drop into coverage, and set the edge in the run game.
309. Javon Hargrave
“Hargrave is built like a nose tackle, and can play that role, but actually has the feet and mobility of a three-technique. The Steelers may have found a really good one with their 2016 third-rounder.”
Well-put, though I am a little surprised to see he’s ranked this high, if 309 can be such a thing. Not that it’s undeserved. Just thought Year Two would be when he lands on the national radar.
242. Bud Dupree
He points out Dupree must be a more refined pass rusher instead of creating pressure with “energy and effort.” Ranking seems to be a bit of a projection. Obviously, a big year for him. I would’ve had him lower.
219. Ramon Foster
“Foster is a controlled, sound blocker who works to finish plays.”
Happy to see Foster get the credit he deserves. Criminally underrated.
193. Stephon Tuitt
Fair. Tuitt was a slight disappointment in 2016 and a strong season, getting into the 6-8 sack range, could be enough for him to crack the Top 100.
165. Marcus Gilbert
“Let’s remember: When you don’t notice the right tackle, that’s almost always a good thing.”
Gilbert another guy who deserves the love. One of the most well-built and athletic tackles in the game. Had a better year than I expected in 2016. Remember, he suffered a freak elbow injury in the preseason last year that seemed like it would hamper him. But we – including me – all forgot. Would be tempted to put him 50 spots higher.
149. Martavis Bryant
Benoit called Bryant a top five explosive receiver sans off field issues. I’d say he’s even higher than that, especially with the effort he’s put in this offseason. Focusing solely on the field, this selection makes sense.
107. Cam Heyward
Don’t want to go full homer here but too low. Heyward is a Top 100 player in this league. Hardly anyone whose game is more well-rounded as his. J.J. Watt. That might be it.
62. Maurkice Pouncey
“Pouncey’s efficiency and mobility maximize the Steelers’ wide receiver screen game. That’s become a huge facet of the offense.”
A bit esoteric when there are so many things to discuss with Pouncey but point taken. I can get onboard with this. Criminal he didn’t make the NFL Player’s Vote Top 100.
61. Ryan Shazier
Called him the fastest linebacker in football. Also one of the best off-ball. Only going to rise in these ranks.
50. David DeCastro
I could see this a 25-30 spots lower. He evened out throughout the year and had a better season than most depict but a Top 50 player? Eh, pushing it.
16. Ben Roethlisberger
“No QB in this era has evolved more than Roethlisberger has. As recently as five years ago, he was an undisciplined sandlot player with supreme playmaking ability. He’s still that, but, now, only when he needs to be. Most of the time in Todd Haley’s offense, he’s a structured, in-rhythm and on-time field general. It has extended his Hall of Fame career. (P.S. He’s one of the best pure ball-throwing talents of this era, perhaps behind only Aaron Rodgers.)”
Felt like he copied my notebook. This is the year the world is waking up to the QB Roethlisberger is. Evolved, no longer just “Backyard Ben.”
Credit to Benoit, Roethlisberger came in as his #3 QB. Few would actually put him that high in the national media.
10. Antonio Brown
Yeah…too low. Benoit obviously complimented AB, he is still Top Ten after all, but Brown needs to be several spots higher. At the minimum. Ranked the second best WR, one spot behind Julio Jones. A debate that will go on for years.
5. Le’Veon Bell
A solid ranking. Here’s what he had to say.
“He’s so good as a pass-catcher that Bell would probably be a top-100 player if he were a fulltime wide receiver. What makes him top-five as a running back is his patience and lateral agility. It’s a transcendent style but not a revolutionary one; the reason other ballcarriers aren’t as patient is that they don’t have Bell’s incredible stop/start quickness and body control. A runner can only be patient if he has the physical ability to suddenly become impatient when the situation demands it.”
No argument across the board.
Definitely check out his article to see the whole 400 ranking and who these Steelers were ranked ahead of/behind. Lot to disagree with but props to anyone who takes a stab at it. I know I couldn’t.