It’s rare that the Pittsburgh Steelers have ever been devoid of talent. They may not have always filmed the best possible team, but they would routinely have blue-chip talent; at least a player or two who would make the All-Pro list, or at least be clearly capable of such an achievement.
For all of the criticism the team may receive these days, the current roster features no fewer than eight players who have made at least one Pro Bowl as a member of the Steelers over the course of the past four seasons, in all three phases of the game.
One of the brightest stars on the team — and also the youngest — is free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Entering his fourth season, he has spent the past 30 games of his career in the Steelers organization since being acquired via trade, and he has been a first-team All-Pro in both seasons played for them thus far.
And he is also, according to Pro Football Focus, one of the top 25 players under 25 in the NFL right now, the only member of the Steelers on the list (T.J. Watt is 26, in case you were wondering). Specifically, he recently ranked seventh on their list.
“Since moving to Pittsburgh and playing a more defined role — not to mention playing within a better defense — Fitzpatrick has been one of the best safeties in the NFL”, Sam Monson writes. “He has nine interceptions and 11 pass breakups over the last two seasons, as well as three single-game PFF grades above 90.0. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker within the Steelers defense with the kind of versatility to make impact plays in all areas”.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner was ranked as the top player under 25. The Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, both quarterbacks, placed second and third. Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown placed fourth, and 49ers edge defender Nick Bosa fifth. Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers cornerback, was sixth, just ahead of Fitzpatrick.
Realistically, the only player who likely even had a shot of making the list would be JuJu Smith-Schuster, but his past two seasons didn’t match his prior level of play. Chase Claypool and Devin Bush are two young players who are certainly capable of arriving on this list at a later date, as well as 2021 first-round pick Najee Harris.
Kevin Dotson will turn 25 in September, so will never qualify for such a list, however, which is admittedly arbitrary, as there are certainly numerous players who are 26 or 27 years old who are better than some younger players who have just as much time left in their respective careers. But it is the convention of the exercise to limit it to 25 players under 25 because it’s a satisfying number, so here we are. And there Minkah is.