With just over a week to go until the start of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers, readers will probably be pleased to note that we are almost at the end of rankings season. But until that time comes, we will continue to torment you with some of the latest offerings from the “media experts.”
While many of the lists highlighted in these pages have generally been fairly critical of the Black and Gold this offseason, we thought it would make a nice change of pace to share one that didn’t project the Steelers to fall flat on their faces in 2019. Following on from their positive ranking of the offensive line last week, the analysts at Pro Football Focus have also graded the team’s run defense fairly highly as well.
Coming in at seventh overall on the list, the unit was ranked as the best the AFC North has to offer this year ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (10), Cleveland Browns (14) and Cincinnati Bengals (24). As per Michael Renner of PFF.
7. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
“This is a unit that should only improve with the addition of sure tackling linebacker Devin Bush. The Steelers first-rounder missed all of 11 tackles on 146 attempts his last two seasons at Michigan.”
It is hard to find any real fault with most of the names listed ahead of Pittsburgh, with the Chicago Bears well worthy of top spot given they lead in the league in rushing yards allowed per game in 2018 (80.0). The Steelers ranked sixth with 96.1 yards a game. However, some might have questions about the placement of the New York Jets at No. 3 and Denver Broncos at No. 6 based on their efforts from last year.
There is every reason to believe that Pittsburgh could eclipse their run defense performances from 2018 with the addition of not only Devin Bush, but also Mark Barron and Steven Nelson. Behind a defensive line that is arguably one of the strongest three-man fronts in the league, the Steelers figure to have more speed on defense this year too. A second season for both Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds at their respective positions should reasonably be expected to produce improved results in run support as well.