In the last 24 hours the Steelers have ranked highly on three different evaluations of defensive groups.
First, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton ranked the top 7 corner back duos in the NFL, ranking Steven Nelson and Joe Haden 5th.
NEW Column: I ranked the top 7 cornerback duos in the NFL— Maurice Moton (@MoeMoton) June 9, 2020
And the top tandem is...??
P.S. This was an easy choice
Steeler fans might not be happy to hear that Baltimore took the top spot in the rankings, but it is nice to see Haden and Nelson getting respect.
The article even covered one of Steelers fans biggest frustrations over the past decade.
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t draft their perimeter cornerbacks, but general manager Kevin Colbert deserves credit for his free-agent investments at the position.
Thanks for reminding us how bad the Steelers are at drafting CBs. Hopefully Justin Layne can break the curse.
Later yesterday, Pro Football Focus released their rankings for the most valuable defensive lines in 2019.
Most valuable DL in 2019— PFF (@PFF) June 10, 2020
4. Buccaneers pic.twitter.com/CSUpGBpWcz
With Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave and Tyson Alualu for depth the Steelers defensive line had very few weaknesses, and good depth. Looking at production, it is hard to argue with 3 years of 50+ sacks.
Then today PFF put out their top edge rusher duo rankings. As you would expect, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree ranked high. The entire artice can read HERE, but here is the specific breakdown for Watt and Dupree:
Watt came in at 28th overall on the PFF50, PFF’s list of the 50 best players in the NFL entering the 2020 season. He has seen a smooth progression from solid contributor to player on the rise to bona fide star this past season. No edge defender put up a higher overall grade than Watt did in 2019 (91.3 overall). As a pass-rusher, he can win with speed, quickness and power, and he led the way for what was the NFL’s highest-graded team pass rush in Pittsburgh last season. Watt’s relentless motor makes him one of the better run defenders at the position, too. His 86.0 run-defense grade since 2018 just so happens to also be one of the best marks at the position, sitting one spot ahead of his brother J.J. Watt on the leaderboard.
On the other side, Dupree took a massive leap forward in 2019 after four disappointing seasons to start his career. His 77.7 overall grade this past year was over 15 points higher than he had ever recorded in any season from 2015 to 2018, and it ranked 23rd among 102 qualifying edge defenders last season. Dupree didn’t necessarily record pressure at a higher rate than in previous seasons, but what he did do was capitalize on his opportunities in the form of sacks (11.5) and forced fumbles (four), both well above his previous career highs. Dupree’s 75.0 run-defense grade was also significantly higher than his previous career high in 2018. It remains to be seen if he can repeat that performance after getting the franchise tag from Pittsburgh this offseason, but if he can, there is no doubt the Steelers have one of the best edge tandems in the NFL.
In looking at the entire article, Steelers fans will likely take issue with the Steelers dynamic edge rushers taking 5th, behind Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon (2nd) along with both duos involving the Bosa brothers. I get people don’t want to say the Steelers are the best at every position on defense, but the stats and tape are compelling. When the team with the worst offense in the NFL wins 8 games, you have to give someone credit.
So which position group on the Steelers defense do you think stands out the most? Or is it the entire unit working together which will be key in 2020? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below and, as always, stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for all your Steelers news.