clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2 Steelers land in the Pro Football Focus top 101 of 2022

Both players from the Steelers were on the defensive side of the ball and landed in the top 50.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the 2022 NFL season coming to a close, a number of awards and recognitions have been going on over the last several weeks. Getting in on the action, Pro Football Focus (PFF) released their top 101 players of the 2022 NFL season.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, I must once again give my typical PFF disclaimer. Despite it being numerical scores given to players every game across a number of categories, PFF is merely an opinion. There is no quantitative way for their grades to be completely accurate as they are trying to assign an objective number to a subjective judgment. Remembering that these scores are merely based on someone’s opinion, it’s not that it is an uninformed opinion as PFF does their due diligence to watch and grade every player on every play. Whether or not one agrees with the PFF assessment is completely up to them.

For the PFF top 101 of 2022, the criteria was described as follows:

Here is a quick reminder of our basic criteria:

This list is based solely on play in 2022. Past or future play is not accounted for. This isn’t about class or talent; it’s about performance throughout the 2022 NFL season.

This list is created with an “all positions are created equal” mantra. So, you won’t see 32 quarterbacks heading the list, even though that is the game’s most valuable position. Instead, we take a look at how guys played relative to what is expected from their position.

Unlike PFF’s awards, the 101 factors in the postseason, so some players who won PFF awards may find themselves jumped in the 101 by rivals who had a playoff run worthy of a change in ranking.

Before getting into where members of the Pittsburgh Steelers fell on the list, there are a few takeaways in regards to the players landing towards the top. Three of the top four positions were held by members of the Kansas City Chiefs in Patrick Mahomes (1), Chris Jones (2), and the Travis Kelce (4). The only player sandwiched in between was the Bengals’ Joe Burrow coming in at the third spot. PFf’s “golden boy” in Myles Garrett lands in the sixth spot just behind the Cowboys’ Micah Parsons.

Moving on to the placement of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cam Heyward comes in at the 29th spot with an explanation as follows:


With T.J. Watt missing from the lineup for half the season, Heyward had to do the heavy lifting for the Steelers’ defense this season. He recorded 58 total pressures and 43 defensive stops, earning an 89.8 overall PFF grade.

Despite not being an initial selection to the Pro Bowl, Cam Heyward shows on this list where he still had an outstanding year. For some reason Heyward constantly fell behind Jeffrey Simmons of the Tennessee Titans for various accolades this year although Simmons landed on this list at number 53.

The other member of the Pittsburgh Steelers to land on the list is All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick at the 44th position:


When Fitzpatrick plays at his best, there is no better safety in the game, and this season was arguably the longest-sustained period of elite play in his career. He generated six interceptions and four pass breakups, earning the highest PFF coverage grade of his career (83.3).

I find it interesting that PFF prides themselves on judging every play equally, yet they only seem to award a high score to Minkah Fitzpatrick when he’s making splash plays. When it seems that Fitzpatrick is simply doing his job and other teams are avoiding throwing the ball in his area, they knock his score down significantly. This year, Fitzpatrick still managed enough splash to be recognized.

In looking for other members of the Steelers on this list, they simply aren’t there. There wasn’t enough of an overall score for any of the Steelers offensive players to land on this list. As for the rest of the defense, T.J. Watt was likely very close as his PFF score was barely behind that of Minkah Fitzpatrick. But it appears that, even though it was not listed in the criteria, that how much a player played throughout the season was a factor in where a player ended up. For example, even though Aaron Donald (48) had a higher PFF score than Cam Heyward, he landed much lower on the list since he missed significant time. This is likely the reason T.J. Watt fell outside of the top 101 for 2022.

So what do you think? Were the two Steelers on the list placed appropriately? Should there have been more black-and-gold representation in the top 101? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.