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Analyzing the Steelers defensive Pro Football Focus grades for the 2022 preseason

In the grades provided by PFF throughout the preseason, even those players who were just acquired have been included.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers concluded their 2022 NFL preseason and have establishedtheir 53-man roster. Although the Steelers came away with a 3-0 record, there are still areas of growth to work out leading up to Week 1. Both the offense and defense had their ups and downs over the three games.

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 the Steelers entire preseason performance. Finally, these are the grades for the Steelers combined over all three games. 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 each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense, defense, and special teams. First up is the defense. Included will be all the players on their current 53-man roster or are eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured List (IR) along with the total snap counts for each player. Players who were on other teams in the preseason will be noted (with a +), and players who had no snaps will be at the bottom of each section. Additionally, there are secions for the players currently on the practice squad as well as the top scores of players not currently on the team (or on IR and are not eligible to return).


Top 5 (regardless of position)

S Terrell Edmunds: 79.6 (89 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 77.9 (50 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 74.3 (80 snaps)
ILB Myles Jack: 71.9 (61 snaps)
+OLB Jamir Jones (JAX): 73.0 (93 snaps) *In 4 games

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

DT Chris Wormley: 53.3 (53 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 53.2 (89 snaps)
DT DeMarvin Leal: 52.9 (100 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 50.3 (61 snaps)
DT Larry Ogunjobi: 37.6 (46 snaps)

Defensive Front Five

+OLB Jamir Jones (JAX): 73.0 (93 snaps) *In 4 games
DT Cam Heyward: 71.6 (23 snaps)
OLB T.J. Watt: 61.6 (33 snaps)
DT Tyson Alualu: 59.7 (26 snaps)
DT Isaiah Loudermilk: 58.6 (33 snaps)
+DT Malik Reed (DEN): 57.3 (41 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 53.3 (53 snaps)
DT DeMarvin Leal: 52.9 (100 snaps)
DT Larry Ogunjobi: 37.6 (46 snaps)

DT Montravius Adams: N/A (0 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: N/A (0 snaps)

While a lot could be made about the high scores of newly acquired Jamir Jones, seeing what he does with the Steelers will ultimately be the test. As for the rest of the group, it’s a players at the bottom in DeMarvin Leal an Larry Ogunjobi which may make one pause. But using the eye test I don’t believe Ogunjobi’s score should be that low. PFF has never shown him love throughout his career while he was a highly sought after player. To me, that tells me they just don’t get what he does.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Myles Jack: 71.9 (61 snaps)
ILB Mark Robinson: 61.3 (111 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 55.2 (89 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 50.3 (61 snaps)

ILB Marcus Allen: N/A (0 snaps)

Miles Jack finished in the top five which will have many Steelers fans happy. Devin Bush finishing fourth will make many Steelers fans feel validated.

Defensive Backs

S Terrell Edmunds: 79.6 (89 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 77.9 (50 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 74.3 (80 snaps)
(IR) S Damontae Kazee: 71.6 (71 snaps)
CB Levi Wallace: 71.2 (75snaps)
CB James Pierre: 63.9 (74 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 58.8 (25 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 55.3 (146 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 53.2 (89 snaps)

S Miles Killebrew: N/A (0 snaps)

I’m not sure why Miles Killebrew did not appear in the preseason, but the Steelers are still comfortable enough to have him on the team. The most encouraging thing is seeing five players in the 70s as this appears to be the strongest of the three defensive levels according to PFF scores.

Defensive Practice Squad

S Elijah Riley (NYJ & PIT): 77.0 (101 snaps)
OLB Hamilcar Rashed: 53.1 (85 snaps)
+DB Mark Gilbert (DET): 48.6 (68 snaps)
DT Carlos Davis: 34.4 (72 snaps)
+ILB Chapelle Russell (JAX): 30.0 (124 snaps) *In 4 games

Top Scores of Players not on the 53 or Practice Squad

CB Chris Steele: 81.4 (39 snaps)
OLB James Vaughters: 74.3 (38 snaps)
CB Linden Stephens: 68.4 (66 snaps)
(IR) CB Carlins Platel: 66.0 (68 snaps)
DT Khalil Davis: 64.6 (33 snaps)

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.