Two Pittsburgh Steelers appeared on CBS’ “25 under 25” list, ranking the top 25 players under the age of 25. For what feels like the sixth year in a row, Minkah Fitzpatrick – still just 24 – showed up on the list. He came in 13th place, which frankly, feels a little low. Here’s what author Cody Benjamin had to say:
“A handful of experts scoffed when the Steelers traded a first-rounder to land Fitzpatrick during the 2020 season, but since then, he’s done nothing but establish himself as maybe the game’s top ball hawk on the back end. Nine picks and 20 pass deflections in 30 games with Pittsburgh? When isn’t this guy around the ball? He’s an ideal center-field-style leader.”
Fitzpatrick was the final piece to the Steelers’ defense, the missing link that helped complete the transformation from an underachieving unit to one of the top groups the last two years, especially in 2019. Kevin Colbert’ aggressive deal to give up a 2020 first round pick has paid off handsomely. Fitzpatrick is among the best free safeties in football with nine interceptions since becoming a Steeler. He’s been named a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in his two years with the team. His work ethic, maturity, football IQ all at 24 years old is remarkable. The only downside? This will be the final year he’ll be eligible for this list. He turns 25 in November.
Chase Claypool just barely cracked the Top 25 coming in at the #24 spot. Benjamin wrote:
“There are so many young wideouts to choose from, but Claypool brings so much to the table long term. He’s got size you can’t teach. He was an instant big-play weapon in Pittsburgh. And he’s got Steelers WR history on his side; no one drafts pass catchers like Steel City, and he’s already showcased the tools to be a future No. 1.”
Claypool set the team record for most receptions by a rookie with 62 in 2020, his season highlighted by a four-touchdown explosion in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He finished the year with 873 yards and 13 total touchdowns. The latter number tied the franchise record for total scores by a rookie, matching the mark held by Franco Harris in 1972 and Louis Lipps in 1984. Now the starter from Week One, Claypool should post impressive numbers as a sophomore and one of the most physically gifted receivers in football. The only thing keeping his stats down is a lack of target shares. He’s competing with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for the ball, capping everyone’s numbers.
CBS’ list intentionally excluded the rookie class and chose only players with NFL snaps. Coming in at #1 was Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson. In fact, the top three spots were held by quarterbacks; Justin Herbert at #2, Kyler Murray at #3. The 49ers’ Nick Bosa was the first defender on the list at #4. At #25 was Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs. Again, you can check out the whole list here.