clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Which current Steelers have the best shot at making the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The Steelers current roster is filled with talent, and ESPN takes a stab at guessing which players on the current team could end up enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Earlier this week Bill Barnwell over at ESPN had a very interesting article trying to predict which players currently on a roster for every NFL team could be a future Hall of Famer. Barnwell figured out in an average year there’s around 50 Hall of Fame Players playing in the NFL. Obviously not all these players will be playing at a Hall of Fame level; some will be rookies barely seeing the field that go on to achieve greatness while others are ageing veterans just padding their stats in one last campaign.

Barnwell notes these aren’t necessarily the players he thinks should make it, just the ones he thinks are most likely to make it based on how the writers typically vote and similar players already in Canton.

Here is his take on the Steelers players with the best shot at enshrinement in the BOLD italics and my personal commentary in normal font below each section.

1 to 10 percent: Le'Veon Bell was arguably the best running back in football in 2014. He was ineffective and injured in 2013 and hurt for most of 2015. If that 2014 version comes back for a sustained run, Bell has the talent and the supporting cast to be a Hall of Fame-caliber back. ... David DeCastro deserved a Pro Bowl nod in 2014 and finally got his first call in 2015.

To call Bell’s 2013 season ineffective is unfair to me. Sure he dealt with some injuries and didn’t quite burst on the scene but he still put up very good numbers for a rookie. In 13 games he ran for 860 yards and 8 touchdowns while adding another 399 in receiving yards. I agree that injuries -and suspensions- pose big questions but if Bell can stay healthy for a sustained run he should put up plenty of pretty statistics. Since there are no stats for offensive lineman the position is highly dependent on reputation when it comes to the Hall of Fame voters. DeCastro finally seems to be earning some notice with being voted to the pro bowl so if he keeps getting voted to pro bowls and all pro lists, however unfair and unscientific that is, he could make a serious case for himself.

James Harrison had a five-year run as one of the most terrifying defenders in all of football, making five consecutive Pro Bowls and winning a Defensive Player of the Year award. He was a backup for the five preceding seasons and has been a middling rotation linebacker for the four succeeding campaigns. He has 76.5 career sacks; for a player who was primarily a pass-rusher, that doesn't seem like enough to justify a Hall of Fame berth. 25 percent

Alas, I don’t see Harrison making it. James Harrison is every football coaches dream. He’s a testament to hard work, sacrifice, and dedication paying off. He was cut multiple times and basically refused to accept he wasn’t cut out for the NFL until he made himself into a dominant player. But that peak was too short lived to get serious attention from the writers that vote. He’s been effective in the rotational role but I don’t think he’ll get too many Hall of Fame brownie points for that. Instead he’ll have to settle for being a Steelers fan favorite.

Maurkice Pouncey is only being held back by injuries; he has missed almost two full seasons with serious knee and leg damage. His four other seasons have produced four Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro appearances. If Pouncey recovers from the serious infections which prevented him from coming back last year, he should regain his title as the AFC's best center. 35 percent

I think this assessment is spot on. Pouncey already has the reputation and respect from voters that DeCastro is trying to capture. If he can stay healthy and keep up his level of play he’s a got a good shot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a writer tries to make the case the injuries actually help his chances since every time he’s been injured he’s come back at the same high level as before which is extremely impressive. ** Knocks on wood to hope Pouncey comes back from last year’s injury just fine**

Antonio Brown is one of the toughest people to slap a number on for this piece. He has been incredible over the past three seasons -- so incredible that it's basically unprecedented -- but he's still so young that he can't be considered a lock for the Hall. Brown's not in the top 100 in receptions or receiving yards, although he should get there this season. Brown is on a Hall of Fame career path, but if things went south quickly, I don't know that he has done enough to guarantee anything as of yet. Of course, if what Brown has done isn't enough, I don't think anybody outside of J.J. Watt could have locked things up this quickly. 80 percent

There have been a ton of wide receivers that had short lived peaks of greatness before injury, age related regressions, off the field troubles and quarterback changes forced them to come back down to earth (you can use former Steeler Santonio Holmes as an example for all four of those scenarios). That being said I don’t see that being the case for Antonio Brown. He truly has been a pleasure to watch for three seasons now and is not slowing down. He also has a quarterback about to make an appearance in this article throwing him the ball which only helps Brown’s case. Sit back and enjoy the Antonio Brown show for hopefully many more years.

Ben Roethlisberger will make the Hall of Fame unless there is a serious re-evaluation of his off-field behavior. 90 percent

Ben Roethlisberger is perennially underrated on ‘Best of’ lists so I give Barnwell credit for recognizing he is a Hall of Famer with no debate over his credentials. As for the ‘re-evaluation of his off-field behavior’ I don’t see that keeping him out. To be clear, I am definitely not saying that’s something that should be ignored or glossed over but the unfortunate reality is that there are a ton of people that did or are accused of doing bad things off the field that also happen to be really good at sports and are in or going to be in the Hall of Fame like it or not.

That’s it for the Steelers section of the article. You’ll notice no defensive players other than Harrison were mentioned, a reflection of how young the Steelers defense is. Perhaps one of the young guns steps up and makes this list in the future. I’d encourage you read the entire article as there’s some interesting choices for other teams (Spoiler Alert: The Brown’s and Jaguars sections are very short). Barnwell also expands on his methodology for selecting which players to include and how he determined the percentages. Do you agree with the list or see any glaring omissions? Comment below.