The 2018 season is not even a week old and the player ranking lists are already starting to emerge, with Pro Football Focus the first to unveil their top 101 players list on Friday. Having finished the season with a disappointing 9-6-1 record, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Pittsburgh Steelers are not quite as well represented as they have been in past years, but few could have expected to see only two Pittsburgh players graded high enough to warrant inclusion this time around.
A year removed from seeing names like Antonio Brown ranked at No.7 and David DeCastro at No.17, the highest Steeler on the list is Cam Heyward coming in at No. 57. Three places lower than he was in 2017.
As per PFF:
57. Cameron Heyward
Top 101 appearances: 2
“Heyward recorded an overall grade of 84.9 this year, the 16th-best mark among interior defenders and his second consecutive grade of 80.0 or higher. As usual, he was a force as a pass rusher and generated 59 total pressures on the year, the fifth-most among players at the position.”
While there is no room for Ben Roethlisberger (No. 68 in 2017) and the absentee Le’Veon Bell (No. 71 in 2017), there is a place for JuJu Smith-Schuster, making his first appearance on the list in only his second season.
65. JuJu Smith-Schuster
Top 101 appearances: New entry
“Smith-Schuster has become one of the premier personalities and brands in the league just two years into his career. He finished the 2018 season with an overall grade of 81.8 which ranked 14th among all qualifying wide receivers, and his 2.02 yards per route run was good for 15th.”
Former University of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald once again earns the No.1 spot on the list after he finished the season with an overall grade of 95.0. Houston Texans wide receiver Deandre Hopkins comes in at No.2 with Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox rounding out the top five.
Finishing the year with an overall grade of 79.3 was understandably not enough to get Brown on the list, but Javon Hargrave can only wonder where he might have ended up in the rankings with more playing time after he finished the season with a higher grade than Ndamukong Suh at No.95 and an overall rating of 82.7.