The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the fan voting for the Pro Bowl with six players leading the voting at their respective positions. Only four of those players made it, but sent five members to the Pro Bowl in total, including a number of retreads in linemen Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro and defenders Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt. The new face was Minkah Fitzpatrick.
If Pro Football Focus were responsible for assembling the Pro Bowl roster, neither of the linemen would have made it. The defense, however, would have had five players in total, as they also included Javon Hargrave and Vince Williams on their rosters.
“With Stephon Tuitt going down hurt, Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave have both stepped up their game to make up for the loss”, writes Austin Gayle. “Heyward leads the conference in total pressures with 56, but Hargrave ranks fourth, one spot ahead of Chris Jones”.
Heyward is in his third consecutive Pro Bowl, having been voted in outright in each of the past two years. Hargrave, now in his fourth season, has never made it to the Pro Bowl, but his playing time is often limited to under 500-600 snaps per season. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Like Hargrave, Williams is also a limited player, even more so, in fact, often seeing only around 25 percent of the snaps in favor of Mark Barron and Devin Bush, though that depends greatly on the opponent and the game circumstances.
In his seventh season, Williams is the second-longest-tenured defender on the team behind Heyward. Gayles writes that he “is enjoying a career year next to rookie Devin Bush”, who was one of the two Steelers who finished first in the fan voting but did not make the Pro Bowl.
In not much more than 300 snaps on the season, the veteran defender has recorded 46 tackles on the season with four tackles for loss, two and a half sacks, seven quarterback hits, a pass defensed, and a fumble recovery. The numbers don’t exactly pop out at you, but as the site says, this is what the tape would vote for.
As for Hargrave, who has played close to 600 snaps, he has tied a career high with 49 tackles so far, including a career-best seven tackles for loss. He has four sacks on the season with five quarterback hits, and he also produced a forced fumble that Fitzpatrick returned for a touchdown.
Given the relative scarcity with which they play, it’s not at all surprising that neither of these players made the actual Pro Bowl. Still, it’s interesting to consider as an indication of how they have performed when given the opportunity this season.