Former NFL general manager and current NFL.com writer Michael Lombardi released his annual "Blue and Red Chip Prospects" list this week (offense/defense and head coach), and a few Steelers players qualified and blue and red chippers.
It's a fun way to break down the best players in the league into two simple groups; the best (red) and the best of the best (blue).
The Steelers landed many players on both sides of the ball in one of the two groups, and coach Mike Tomlin made the cut as well.
For the sake of brevity, I'll list the positions in which a Steelers player make the cut.
Per Lombardi, these criteria were used:
Definition of a blue-chip player
- Demonstrates rare abilities and creates mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game.
- Is a premier player in the league and a weapon on the field.
- Combines competitiveness and skill to provide a consistent championship-level performance.
- Rates in the top five at his position in the league.
Definition of a red-chip player
- Has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league.
- Is a featured player on his team and has an impact on the outcome of the game.
- Can't be taken out of the game in a one-on-one matchup.
- Is consistent from week to week.
- Plays at a championship level.
- Rates in the top 10 at his position in the league
Roethlisberger making the blue list seems about right. Interesting on the additions of Newton and Flacco to the red list. Certainly, neither looked to be even close to this level last year.
Mike Wallace, Steelers
Andre Johnson, Texans
Steve Johnson, Bills
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
Brandon Marshall, Bears
Marques Colston, Saints
Greg Jennings, Packers
Steve Smith, Panthers
Wes Welker, Patriots
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Lombardi noted how tough it was to keep Wallace out of the blue group, which really shows how many outstanding receivers there are in the league. The Steelers are one of two teams with two of them on here, though (Packers).
Three of the four AFC North teams have a center on this list, and they're all young (Mack, Pouncey and Cook). Unfortunately for Cincinnati, they lost Cook for an indefinite period of time, and signed Jeff Faine, who...is not on this list, to put it mildly.
Harrison used to rank much higher on this list, and he appears to be entering the twilight of his career. Woodley, on the other hand, looks to be just hitting his stride. It is nice to see, however, there is a writer who doesn't worship Clay Matthews.
Ed Reed, Ravens
Troy Polamalu, Steelers
Jairus Byrd, Bills
Charles Woodson, Packers
Louis Delmas, Lions
Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Michael Griffin, Titans
Adrian Wilson, Cardinals
Eric Weddle, Chargers
Dashon Goldson, 49ers
Reed and Polamalu at the top of the list is spot on. Look for Thomas and Goldson to move up higher next year.
Mike McCarthy, Packers
Bill Belichick, Patriots
Tom Coughlin, Giants
Jim Harbaugh, 49ers
John Harbaugh, Ravens
Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Andy Reid, Eagles
Mike Smith, Falcons
Jim Schwartz, Lions
Gary Kubiak, Texans
I really enjoy Lombardi's writing and I think he does a great job with this list, as he does every year. He completely missed the mark here.
I get Coughlin and Belichick being blue, but McCarthy's best team lost (badly) in the first round of the playoffs, and Jim Harbaugh has coached one season. And his brother? Please. Oddly, Lombardi mentioned: "Tomlin is a blue-chip coach in my mind, but the Harbaugh family took two spots."
They shouldn't have taken any.