The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to find nothing but doubt in their listing in recent power rankings; their most recent snub came in the form of preseason rookie seedings.
Bleacher Report recently published a 2013 rookie power ranking, seeding new NFL blood by their potential to make an impact in the league. The only Steelers rookie involved was third-round draft pick WR Markus Wheaton as an honorable mention. No Le'Veon Bell. No Jarvis Jones.
The ranking was based on college production, 'camp buzz', depth chart seeding and 'team fit'. Rookie RB Bell has been viewed as a perfect fit for the Steelers new outside zone run blocking scheme, often out producing his veteran counterparts in practices. Granted, Bell was buried at the bottom of the depth chart until the team's most recent was released prior to the preseason game against the Washington Redskins, where he now shares the top spot with Isaac Redman. Many expect Bell to be the lone starter once the season begins.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones has not officially jumped over Jason Worilds to start at right outside linebacker, the position once dominated by now-Cincinnati Bengals James Harrison. Jones plummeted on many teams' draft boards after posting a 4.9 second 40-yard dash time at the scouting combine while dealing with a hamstring injury, but the Steelers saw him as a perfect fit for their 3-4 defense after playing in a similar system in college at Georgia. Jones recovered a fumble by Andre Brown against the Giants in the preseason opener.
Wheaton, Pittsburgh's third-round pick, saw several snaps against the Giants. He gained ten yards on an end around and grabbed a tough catch over the middle off the arm of Bruce Gradkowski. He almost grabbed another impossible catch along the sideline, but he lost control of the ball after hitting the ground nullifying the catch after the play was challenged by Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
Those following the team see Wheaton as ready to be a legitimate NFL star. NFL.com listed Wheaton as fifth on their list of rookies ready to surprise in 2013. Evidently Bleacher Report is among those to be surprised.
The remainder of the Steelers rookie class has yet to prove their worth through consistency. Shamarko Thomas continues to find work at nickel back and safety. Justin Brown played more like a veteran than a sixth-round draft selection against the Giants, grabbing a difficult pass while falling backwards but maintaining possession. Fellow sixth-rounder Vince Williams looks to be a legitimate contender in the inside linebacker reserve position battle.
Other rookies have been less impressive. Landry Jones still holds an advantage over John Parker Wilson in the battle for 3rd quarterback, but has not exactly looked NFL ready. Fifth-round selection Terry Hawthorne has potential in the eyes of secondary coach Carnell Lake, but has only recently returned to the field after recovering from off-season knee surgery. Nicholas Williams, a defensive end project taken in the seventh round, has also just returned to action after being limited with a knee injury of his own.
The Bleacher Report rankings are subject to change with each passing week. Perhaps after the Steelers and Redskins meet in the second week of the preseason, Wheaton and Bell will climb a bit higher.
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