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Checking the Pro Football Focus grades for the Steelers offense so far this season

In the grades provided by PFF, the Steelers best player on offense is one who needs to be even more involved moving forward.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off the bye week, and many are assessing how the players have performed through the first six games. As a team, the Steelers are 3-3 which is the most telling number possible. But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their entire 2021 regular-season performance. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are for the season.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. Next up is the offense. Included will be all the players who played at least one snap this season (except for Minkah Fitzpatrick who has three snaps on kneel downs) and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 397 snaps on defense so far this season. Also, for players who meet PFF’s snap minimum, their rank at their position is included.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

TE Pat Freiermuth: 73.8 (201 snaps); 15th of 67
WR Diontae Johnson: 73.7 (277 snaps); 30th of 119
RB Najee Harris: 67.8 (343 snaps); 33rd of 65
OT Joe Haeg: 67.2 (109 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 67.0 (257 snaps); 65th of 119

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

OT Chuks Okorafor: 55.2 (304 snaps); 62nd of 77
WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 49.7 (141 snaps); 116th of 119
FB Derek Watt: 48.3 (28 snaps)
TE Eric Ebron: 44.7 (185 snaps); 66th of 67
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 43.1 (28 snaps)


Quarterback

QB Ben Roethlisberger: 58.8 (397 snaps); 29th of 34

Most Steelers fans know that Ben Roethlisberger gets no love from PFF. While his play has not been stellar at times in 2021, what is confusing is seeing Roethlisberger compared to other players. Seeing others scored above him such as Zach Wilson, Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, and Gino Smith seems a little off. But PFF does not do it on a comparative basis simply on grading each play.

Running Backs

RB Najee Harris: 67.8 (343 snaps); 33rd of 65
RB Kalen Ballage: 57.0 (26 snaps)
FB Derek Watt: 48.3 (28 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 43.1 (28 snaps)

The snap counts here seem to be extremely telling. The Steelers are definitely riding the Najee Harris train. While Harris is in the top five scores for the Steelers, he’s only ranked in the middle of the pack when it comes to other NFL running backs. Being his first six games of his career, his trajectory over the next 11 games will be telling.

Receivers

TE Pat Freiermuth: 73.8 (201 snaps); 15th of 68
WR Diontae Johnson: 73.7 (277 snaps); 30th of 121
WR Chase Claypool: 67.0 (257 snaps); 65th of 121
TE Zach Gentry: 63.4 (97 snaps)
WR Cody White: 60.1 (27 snaps)
WR James Washington: 59.9 (150 snaps); 90th of 121
+WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: 59.2 (222 snaps); 94th of 121
WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 49.7 (141 snaps); 118th of 121
TE Eric Ebron: 44.7 (185 snaps); 66th of 68

Although it is encouraging that Pat Freiermuth as the top offensive grade for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s more of an indictment on the Steelers offense. Freiermuth is only the 15th ranked tight end in the entire NFL yet that tops out the Steelers offense. I have no problem with Freiermuth staying on the top of this list if he continues to grow higher in both score and ranking.

Offensive Line

OT Joe Haeg: 67.2 (109 snaps)
C J.C. Hasenauer: 63.4 (12 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 62.1 (386 snaps); 40th of 74
G B.J. Finney: 61.5 (22 snaps)
G Kevin Dotson: 61.2 (386 snaps); 43rd of 74
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 60.6 (381 snaps); 54th of 78
C Kendrick Green: 57.7 (385 snaps); 27th of 36
OT Chuks Okorafor: 55.2 (304 snaps); 63rd of 78

It is discouraging with the three players who are not starters on this list holding three of the top four spots. But with the Steelers young offensive line, it’s not surprised that these player started out rough and have gradually had increasing scores. More than anything, these numbers should act as a baseline for each player and their amount of improvement since the bye week would be a true measurement of their season.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.