Bleacher Report released their post-Super Bowl LIV NFL Power Rankings on Tuesday and included a very interesting paragraph concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers, who they have ranked 9th overall. The paragraph in question revolves around the 2020 outlook for the Steelers defense.
“Defensively, the cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden remains an area of concern. Edge-rusher Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave are both set to hit free agency after having career seasons last year. ”
Obviously, calling the cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden a concern is a huge shot at Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson and as you can see by the included tweets below, it didn’t take long for Bleacher Report’s slight of Nelson to get back to the cornerback.
Yes, Nelson has a right to be upset. After all, he was easily the Steelers 2019 unsung defensive hero. Additionally, it’s not a huge surprise to see Nelson recently listed on PFF’s top 101 players from the 2019 NFL season at 86th overall. Below is what they wrote about Nelson’s 2019 play.
“One of the more underrated players in all of football, Steven Nelson had an excellent season for the Pittsburgh Steelers after being “just another member” of a Chiefs defense that was disappointing in 2018. Nelson allowed just 51.5% of passes thrown his way this season to be caught and allowed only one touchdown across the 66 passes thrown into his coverage. Nelson’s run defense was also solid, and he demonstrated that, while on a better unit, he was capable of much better play than he was being given credit for while playing in Kansas City.”
If Nelson’s mad about what Bleacher Report wrote on Tuesday, I suppose wide receiver Diontae Johnson should be as well. After all, look at what was written about the Steelers needing another receiving option in the passing game to go along with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
“Offensively, adding a dependable secondary option in the passing game would be a plus. James Washington showed the occasional flash in 2019, but not so much that teams didn’t double Smith-Schuster with regularity.
Johnson, the Steelers first of two third-round draft picks in 2019, led all rookie wide receivers in receptions this past season with 59 catches for 680 yards and five touchdowns. While he isn’t on PFF’s top 101 players from the 2019 NFL season, he did make their top 50 rookie players of 2019 at 29th overall. Below is what they wrote about Johnson and his rookie ranking.
“Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson climbed up the ranks over the last four weeks of the season. From Week 14-17, Johnson’s 82.3 PFF grade ranked sixth among wideouts, and his 11 broken tackles were four more than any other receiver. As a result, he’s made a strong case to be the Steelers’ No. 2 option behind JuJu Smith-Schuster.”
The aforementioned Bleacher Report post doesn’t credit an individual for what was written about the Steelers portion. All the post states is that Bleacher Report NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski contributed to the rankings. So, one of those three individuals will end Tuesday with quite a bit egg on their face and it will be interesting to see if the guilty party steps forward on Twitter to answer to Nelson.
UPDATE: Flushed him out.