Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: DT Cameron Heyward
Stock Value: Up
For one reason or another, I quite frankly haven’t talked a whole lot about Cameron Heyward and his play this season. Perhaps I’m doing what I often warn others against doing, which is to take advantage of his level of play. To do so would be a mistake.
Yesterday, the nine-year veteran was rightly honored with the distinction of being named a first-team All-Pro, the second such recognition of his career. He was also named first-team All-Pro following the 2017 season, during which he posted a career-high 12 sacks, which is also the second-most in a single season by a defensive lineman in Steelers history.
He didn’t quite hit that mark in 2019, but with one finale sack in Week 17, he did post the second-highest total of his career with nine. He is quickly climbing the leaderboards, and (officially) has the second-most sacks by a defensive lineman in team history, trailing Keith Willis (59) by five entering 2020. He is also three sacks from tying LaMarr Woodley for the fifth-most sacks in team history (since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic).
But the significant discussion for now is the fact that, despite the fact that the Steelers’ run defense was generally awful in the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens, he continued to have yet another good game. He added to what was by far the highest tackle total of his career of 83 (his previous high was 59), with a tackle for loss, a sack, two quarterback hits, and a batted pass that resulted in a Joe Haden interception.
There’s not much that Heyward hasn’t done yet in his career, though it would be nice to see him get an interception someday. Stephon Tuitt does have one. Brett Keisel famously had one, and I bet he brings that up a lot whenever they get together and compare careers.