June has now arrived and that means its officially list and ranking season. Basically, that means we can look forward to a large number of lists and rankings from the major media outlets during the next 45 days or so in an effort to keep content flowing during the slowest part of the NFL offseason ahead of training camps getting underway. On Tuesday, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports released his annual list of top 100 players for the upcoming season and on it he has three members of the Pittsburgh Steelers. All three are defensive players as well.
Not surprisingly, Prisco’s highest rated Steelers player for the 2021 season is outside linebacker T.J. Watt and he has him ranked sixth overall behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Below is Prisco’s reason for having Watt ranked sixth overall.
He led the NFL in sacks with 15 and was the runner-up as Defensive Player of the Year, despite missing one game. He is also a force against the run.
A fair enough assessment of Watt overall, in my honest opinion, and it would have been a bit of crime had Prisco not ranked the Steelers outside linebacker in his top ten. That said, I think an argument can be made that Watt deserves to be ranked ahead of Kelce.
The second highest ranked Steelers player on Prisco’s list this year is none other than safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who failed to rank in the top 100 a year and that caused quite the backlash. This year, Prisco has Fitzpatrick ranked 60th overall. Below is the nugget that Prisco wrote on Fitzpatrick.
I left him off the list last year, and heard plenty about it. He earned his right to be on the list this season after a slow start in 2020. He is a rangy safety that fits perfectly in the NFL game.
While it’s great that Prisco has seen the error of his 2020 ways, I do find it quite amusing that he has Fitzpatrick as his third-best free safety and two spots behind Jessie Bates of the Cincinnati Bengals. I mean, I like Bates and all, but no way am I ranking him ahead of Fitzpatrick on any list.
The third player from the Steelers to crack Prisco’s top 100 list this year is defensive tackle Cameron Heyward. Prisco has the Steelers defensive captain ranked 65th overall and below is what he wrote about the former first round draft pick out of Ohio State.
His sack numbers fell from nine to four last season, but he still had 19 quarterback hits. He is also a good run player, which is key in their scheme.
That seems like a fair enough ranking for Heyward and at least he’s within the top 75.
While no Steelers offensive players managed to crack Prisco’s top 100 list in 2021, guard David DeCastro is listed as one of 40 players that just missed the cut. That’s certainly a large “just missed” list and DeCastro is the 32nd player included in it.