The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who has been consistently competitive for a long time. Those competitive teams might not have always brought home hardware, I’m looking at you 2017 Steelers, but you can’t ignore the talent they’ve had on their roster year-in and year-out.
As Pro Football Focus (PFF) put together their All-Decade 2010s Team, they had 101 players listed as the best of the best during that 10 year span. Position didn’t matter, nor did their overall team’s success.
For the black-and-gold faithful, you might find some solace in knowing the Steelers were well-represented on that list. In fact, they had six players on the list.
Check out who finished where, and their explanation as to why they were placed at that specific position:
13. WR ANTONIO BROWN
The last year or so of drama and controversy has left Brown out in the wilderness, but while he was playing, he was as productive as any receiver in football. Only Julio Jones has a higher yards per route run figure than Brown’s 2.46 over the decade, and he has the fourth-lowest drop rate over that time at just 4.1%. Brown is one of just three players to amass over 10,000 receiving yards over the decade, and he has at least 14 more touchdowns than either of the other players to break that barrier (Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald). Antonio Brown right now is an NFL pariah, but he was one of the best receivers the game had ever seen when he was on the field.
37. QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER
At his best, Ben Roethlisberger was up there with the very best quarterbacks in football, but his ability to consistently be in the “next group” of passers even when he wasn’t at his very best is what’s kept him this high on the list and kept the Steelers contending for so many years. He went six straight seasons with an overall PFF grade above 80.0, and it wasn’t until last year’s cameo performance — before an injury ended his season — that we saw him post a grade lower than 75.0.
63. S TROY POLAMALU
Polamalu hasn’t played since 2014, but he was right in the middle of his prime at the start of the decade. He was the epitome of a game-changing safety who could line up all over the field, play the run, rush the passer, drop into coverage and disguise his intentions as late as possible with an incredible feel for where he needed to be. Polamalu ranked ninth in the NFL in PFF grade in 2010 before ranking first in 2011, 10th in 2012 and seventh in 2013 before tapering off in his final season in 2014. Few safeties could impact the game at all levels of the field like Polamalu, making him a unique Hall of Fame-caliber player who was still among the league’s best at the start of the 2010s.
92. RB LE’VEON BELL
Quickly becoming a cautionary tale as to the dependency of running backs on their situation, Le’Veon Bell was nevertheless a legitimate game-changing back for the majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has still yet to earn an overall PFF grade under 70.0 for a season, and his unique style of patient running worked in perfect harmony with the Steelers’ run-blocking to allow him to dominate. His receiving skills are among the best in the league at his position, and at his best, he has been arguably the best back in football. We may never see that player again unless the New York Jets can significantly turn their fortunes around, but this list will remember those seasons.
95. EDGE JAMES HARRISON
The decade only caught the second half of James Harrison’s incredible career. Yet, even as an aging veteran presence, he seemed to be bulletproof and capable of continuing on forever as an imposing and productive player. Even a complete position switch to an off-ball linebacker with the Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t prevent him grading well. And in his final cameo appearances for the New England Patriots, he still flashed the ability to generate pressure despite his age. Harrison is one of the best defenders the league has seen, maybe ever, and was an outstanding player in the past decade.
97. DI CAMERON HEYWARD
A former first-round draft pick, Cameron Heyward had a slow start to his career because of the talent and depth the Pittsburgh Steelers had along the defensive line. When he got a chance to step up and be the guy up front, he took his game to another level and has been one of the best interior players in the game. His best three seasons have come in the past three years. And he is coming off the best year of his career, one in which he broke 90.0 in overall PFF grade for the first time and was arguably the best interior lineman not named Aaron Donald.
Do you agree with the players who made the list, or do you think there is a player, or two, who deserved to receive recognition? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.