Back when the Pittsburgh Steelers were winning Super Bowls on a perennial basis, that era’s lasting legacy proved to be a string of players waltzing their way into the doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The 1970s dynasty produced about as many busts as just about any other one team in NFL history.
The Steelers’ second Super Bowl period of the mid-2000s also raised the question, once again: which of these players currently performing are going to end up in the Hall of Fame? Ben Roethlisberger was a given. Troy Polamalu was another. Neither are in, yet, but both should be in contention to be first-ballot enshrinees.
After that, it got tricky. There is Alan Faneca from the first Super Bowl. At the time, James Harrison looked like he might have that type of career, but now that all is said and done, it looks like he’ll come up short. The same could be said, eve more explicitly, for LaMarr Woodley. Heath Miller, as beloved as he was, and is, will never make it, either.
What about today’s roster? There is still Roethlisberger, of course, but are there any other players on the roster right now who would seem to have a reasonable chance of making it into the Hall of Fame at some point after they retire?
Pro Football Focus took a stab at answering this question for all 32 teams, projecting current players among three categories: those who would be in if they were to retire now; those who are on pace for a Hall of Fame resume; and those who were considered by were deemed insufficient. Roethlisberger was of course included in the first category.
“Among 35 quarterbacks that have played at least 4,000 snaps in the PFF era, Roethlisberger ranks sixth in overall PFF grade all while performing at a remarkably consistent level, grading below 80.0 only twice since 2009”, Ben Linsey wrote.
The only other player that the article mentions for the Steelers is veteran guard David DeCastro, who falls into the on-pace category. “He may not get a spot given the difficulty that offensive linemen and particularly guards have faced in getting inducted, but since entering the league, DeCastro has been one of the best at the guard position”, Linsey wrote.
Evidently not considered for them, but certainly will be considered in actuality, is center Maurkice Pouncey. Since being drafted in the first round in 2010, Pouncey has played nine seasons, making the Pro Bowl in each of the seven seasons for which he was healthy. He has made at least the second-team All-Pro list five times as well, including this past season.
If this were a question for last year, Antonio Brown would be an easy mention, and Le’Veon Bell would very much be in the on-pace category as well. To date, he has averaged the most yards from scrimmage per game in NFL history. That just hints at the talent that they’ve lost this offseason in terms of true blue-chip players.