There are roughly two periods built into the NFL calendar in which the formation and proliferation of lists is an accepted behavior, simply because there really isn’t a whole lot else going on. One of those periods is the extensive down time between the end of minicamp in the middle of June to the start of training camp in late July.
And so, as we officially enter that spacious chunk of the NFL calendar in which roughly nothing happens, I present to you a random list in which a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is named. Elliott Harrison of NFL.com published a list yesterday of his ‘All-Under-25 Team, and outside linebacker T.J. Watt was on it.
I would hope that I don’t have to go into too great detail to explain the concept, but the general idea of the list is to build a full starting lineup of the best players in the league who are under the age of 25. Harrison specifies that the players on the list will be under 25 when the season starts.
“Watt was a fine starter from Day 1”, he wrote of the Steelers’ 2017 first-round draft pick. “While he has much potential to become a standout pass rusher, Watt enjoyed a solid overall rookie campaign with 54 tackles, seven sacks, a pick and seven passes defensed”.
Not a lot of detail, of course, but generally that is the sort of entry that you will get from a list like this, especially when it requires dozens of entries. Harrison chose three linebackers for his team, the other two being Deion Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and Myles Jack of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The defense is built to a 4-3 front.
I wrote an article last month after the website Pro Football Focus published its own list of young talent. Their article detailed the top 25 players—not necessarily starting lineups—heading into the 2018 season who were under the age of 25, and nobody from the Steelers was represented on the list.
I argued that the Steelers do have some young talent, but much of it remains pretty unproven. Watt is obviously among those, but there are others, such as wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who could easily have a breakout year in 2018.
Yet he didn’t make PFF’s list, or Harrison’s either. For wide receivers, the latter chose Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill. Hill matched Smith-Schuster’s seven touchdowns but also had 75 receptions for 1183 yards in 2017.
Artie Burns turned 23 a little over a month ago. Sean Davis, Mike Hilton, and of course the entire rookie draft class is under 25 as well. Around this time next year, will we be seeing more Steelers names on these sorts of lists?