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Sunday, June 28, 2015

One month out, the Steelers' top 25

I'm bored. You're bored. We're all bored, waiting for training camp to start.

I'm not big on the NFL Network's top 100 list because, well, it's a flawed voting system. From what I can gather, not a lot of players vote for the list. And, in reality, the top 12 or so players should all be quarterbacks. After all, if you're putting together a team for the 2015 season, wouldn't you want a QB first?

I'm going to put together a list now of the Steelers' top 25 players, regardless of position heading into this season. Hint, yes Ben Roethlisberger is No. 1.

25. Cortez Allen, CB - A starting cornerback at No. 25? Well, this is where Allen played himself to in 2014. I think he'll bounce back this season and outperform this ranking. But I have to see it first.

24. Shamarko Thomas, S - This is a projection as much as anything. He has to outperform this ranking.

23. Will Johnson, FB - I have thought for the past couple of years that Johnson could be used more as a receiver. Maybe this year.

22. Jarvis Jones, OLB - Gotta stay healthy. But he's shown some flashes. This had better be the year he puts it all together.

21. Markus Wheaton, WR - Wheaton had his moments in 2014, but he was eventually overshadowed by rookie Martavis Bryant. That will only happen more moving forward.

20. Antwon Blake, CB - Yes, he's the third corner. And yes, he's ranked higher than Cortez Allen, the presumptive starter.

19. Arthur Moats, OLB - You see the issues the Steelers have defensively when their two presumptive starting outside linebackers are ranked 18th and 21st. They must climb this list.

18. Marcus Gilbert, OT - Gilbert is solid, if unspectacular. His ranking is a little lower than perhaps expected because he's had issues staying healthy a full season.

17. Stephon Tuitt, DE - Another player who could outperform this ranking. I liked what I saw down the stretch last season.

16. Ryan Shazier, LB - The Steelers selected him in the first round to be a star. He's shown flashes. But that's all to this point. They need him to break out in 2015.

15. Ramon Foster, OG - Like Gilbert, solid if unspectacular. Good leader.

14. Mike Mitchell, S - We'll give him a pass for his play in 2014 because of injuries and learning a new defense. He also had to play a lot of deep safety because Troy Polamalu could no longer run. He could be asked to attack the line of scrimmage more this season.

13. Steve McLendon, NT - Played a good portion of 2014 with a very injured shoulder. He's not Casey Hampton, but McLendon is a solid football player.

12. Heath Miller, TE - Not the downfield threat he once was, but still a good leader and solid performer. His blocking isn't what it once was.

11. William Gay, CB - Another solid leader, Gay will make some splash plays. Like every corner in the NFL, he'll struggle at times as well. But he's the best the Steelers have right now.

10. David DeCastro, G - He's been good thus far, but you expect greatness any day from a guard selected in the first round. Could this be the year?

9. Martavis Bryant. WR - Looks like he could be a beast this year. Could outperform this ranking. But the name of the game is scoring touchdowns while stopping the opponent from doing the same. He had eight scores in 10 games last season.

8. James Harrison, LB - Will less Harrison this year equal more production from the 37-year-old? Perhaps. But he was very productive in 2014.

7. Kelvin Beachum, LT - Might be the toughest guy on the team not named Ben Roethlisberger to replace if he were lost to an injury. Will give up some sacks, but he's very smart and often overlooked.

6. Maurkice Pouncey, C - The leader of an offensive line that's improved greatly over the past two seasons. And it still has room to grow.

5. Lawrence Timmons, LB - Finally, a Pro Bowl nod for Timmons last season. He probably should have been making his third or fourth such trip.

4. Cameron Heyward, DE - The new heart and soul of the Steelers defense. A new contract will be forthcoming in training camp.

3. Le'Veon Bell, RB - It's hard to put a guy who might be the best overall running back in the league third, but it's tough to put him ahead of the top two guys as well. He's a young Marshall Faulk.

2. Antonio Brown, WR - Might be the best player, pound for pound, in the NFL. He also might be the best wide receiver in the league.

1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB - The NFL leader in passing yards last season, Roethlisberger has a handle on Todd Haley's offense now and should be primed for another big season.


snarky said...

I pretty much agree but I would put Beachum ahead of Pouncey.

datruth4life said...

Dale, good post. Hopefully the team can get something out of this year's draft to show something.

Dale Lolley said...

The only reason I put Pouncey ahead was the leadership factor. But Beachum is more valuable in terms of on-field play.

Stevie said...

Not a huge complaint, but putting Heyward ahead of Timmons is a projection.

Marc said...

interesting, dale. beachum is more valuable on the field than the team's all pro center? does that mean beachum is under-rated and should be considered all-pro caliber or is pouncey over-rated?

snarky said...

Left tackles are harder to come by than centers

Marc said...

snarky, I agree. I've just always thought pouncey was over-rated and overpaid. he's a good center, not great and not all-pro, imo.

I hope beachum gets his extension this year, I think he's earned it. but, how much are the steelers going to be willing to pay him if his agent also believes beachum is more valuable than pouncey on the field?

Dale Lolley said...

Heyward is not only the best player on the team's defense, he's also the leader of the defense.

Anonymous said...

Pretty bad when your 8th best player is a 37-year old guy who has averaged 3 tackles a game the last 2 years and been released once. The defense still stinks.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers need to get better but that top 3 (Ben, Brown and Bell) would be the envy of most NFL teams.

LexingtonLegend said...

Heath behind Will Gay?! Has his blocking really declined? I haven't noticed I guess with Ben being more upright and Bell running well.

Steve-O said...

This time next year, Ryan Shazier will be top 5.

Shimul Baran said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Top 25 or most valuable? It's not the same, imo. For example: any above the line LT is more valuable than any above the line RG, but Beachum is not better at his position than DeCastro at his. Not to pick on the guy; just saying'.

Quality-wise, it is striking how quickly accomplishment drops from ~ #6. What the 2015 Steelers need is for Bryant, DeCastro, Shazier, Tuitt and one or more DB to get into the top 12 or so. Also, Dupree. There is room, and plenty of it. If all those guys have better years next season than, say, Harrison did last, the Steelers will be strong contenders. If not, not so much.

Cortez Allen's my dark horse. Immensely disappointing last season (especially so on a competitive attitude kinda vector). However, we may do well (this time of the year) to remember the close of 2012. For two games, Allen played on a level near to Woodson/Lake, in the Blitzburgh Days. Obviously, two games does not make a career. Still, that is his top end and the 2015 Steelers will need it just like that.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Allen is, not Allen's.

Anonymous said...

What has Decastro done that convinced fans he is so great? The guy can pull like a champ but ask him to pass block or push his man back and he's average. That's part of why our red zone ypc sucks. He can't dominate the guy in front of him like the best guards.

He's a good player but he still has some things to improve.

Tom said...

Anonymous 7:54pm: You're not wrong, but you have to consider the Steelers (as should any other team in the NFL) evaluate him for how he fits what they like to do in their system. Steelers pull their guards often and generally like to have mobile lineman who can also lay some pop in their blocks. So In a vacuum Decastro may not ever be elite in terms of physical prowess and ability to flat dominate his man compared to all other guards in the league...but he's a powerful, mobile, and intelligent lineman with good work ethic and attitude (coachable). He's valuable and will be paid handsomely to continue being so by the Steelers. Doesn't hurt that you could argue his best years are ahead of him as you have pointed out that he's not exactly put together a solid 16 game+ season thus far.

Shimul Baran said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.