Before Reddit’s voluntary blackout earlier this week, a conversation had started about who were the best players at each position during Mike Tomlin’s tenure. Lots of fans chimed in with the usual G.O.A.T.s, but I wanted to take it a step further and create an entire 53-man roster, plus practice squad. So I humbly present to you: the Steelers All-Tomlin Team.
BEN ROETHLISBERGER (duh)
CHARLIE BATCH (33 games, 2,069 yds, 12 tds, 12 ints)
KENNY PICKETT (13 games, 2,404 yds, 7 tds, 9 ints)
A case could be made that it’s too premature to include Kenny on this squad after just one year. Landry Jones had some comeback wins, but nothing like last season’s victories over Vegas and Baltimore.
LE’VEON BELL (62 games, 5,336 yds, 35 tds)
RASHARD MENDENHALL (57 games, 3,529 yds, 29 tds)
NAJEE HARRIS (34 games, 2,234, 14 tds, 696 rec yds, 6 rec tds)
WILLIE PARKER (40 games, 2,496 yds, 7 rush tds, 241 rec yds, 1 rec td)
I’m putting Parker on the 53 over James Conner even though Conner may have better stats in several categories under Coach Tomlin. Parker had a Pro Bowl season in 2007, along with eight 100-yard games.
ANTONIO BROWN (74 TDS)
MIKE WALLACE (4,042 yds, 32 TDS)
HINES WARD (27 TDS),
JUJU (3,855 yds, 26 TDS)
DIONTAE JOHNSON (3,646 yds, 20 TDS)
SANTONIO HOLMES (3,011 yds, 18 TDS)
I’m keeping six. Holmes may not have the numbers under Tomlin that DJ and JuJu. However, Santonio’s clutch factor and his ability to take over a game earns him a roster spot,
HEATH MILLER (10 TDS)
PAT FREIERMUTH (32 games, 1,229 yds, 9 tds)
JESSE JAMES (56 games, 1,189 yds, 9 tds)
VANCE MCDONALD (53 games, 1,170 yds, 9 tds)
I was surprised how similar Jesse and Vance are, stats-wise. Plus, they both have iconic moments in the black and gold, so I’m keeping all four.
MARCUS GILBERT (87 starts)
MAX STARKS (66 starts)
WILLIE COLON (48 starts)
Colon’s ability to play guard earns him a spot on my 53.
Keeping just one center may be the biggest flaw in this 53. I’ll stash Justin Hartwig on the practice squad.
Smith and Big Snack may not have the numbers of the others, but we all know they’re future Hall of Honor players.
JAMES HARRISON (duh)
TJ WATT (87 games, 77.5 sacks)
LAMARR WOODLEY (94 games, 57 sacks)
BUD DUPREE (81 games, 39.5 sacks)
ALEX HIGHSMITH (49 games, 22.5 sacks)
Since Tomlin says outside linebackers are the engine in the Steelers machine, I’m putting five on the 53. Some may think it’s too soon to put Highsmith in this club, but his sack total almost matches Jason Worilds in 24 fewer games.
LAWRENCE TIMMONS (158 games, 981 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 12 int)
JAMES FARRIOR (78 games, 518 tackles, 21 sacks, 2 int)
LARRY FOOTE (158 games, 621 tackles, 21 sacks, 3 int)
RYAN SHAZIER (46 games, 299 tackles, 7 sacks, 7 int, 2 probowls, 1 all-pro)
Although Vince Williams almost played 3x as many games as Shazier, Ryan’s Pro Bowl and All-Pro accolades give him the nod. The bigger question may be who are he starters in this room?
IKE TAYLOR (174 games, 636 tackles, 30 sacks, 8 int)
JOE HADEN (68 games, 238 tackles, 1 sack, 10 int)
WILLIAM GAY (160 games, 514 tackles, 11 int)
MIKE HILTON (59 games, 237 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 7 int)
BRYANT MCFADDEN (52 games, 25 starts, 159 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 int)
Some could probably make a case for Steven Nelson or even Deshea Townsend. Maybe B-Mac’s current relevancy as a podcaster is giving me bias. But sometimes those are the factors that give one person an edge over another in these all-time debates (just ask Bill Cowher).
TERRELL EDMUNDS (79 games, 410 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 int)
MIKE MITCHELL (61 games, 61 starts, 281 tackles, 4 in)
Mitchell’s position flexibility at either safety role gives him the nod here.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
LS - GREG WARREN
K - CHRIS BOSWELL (86.3%, 116 games)
P - JORDAN BERRY (44.4 ypp, 154 within the 20)
I didn’t want to include a long snapper, but how could I ignore a player who locked down the role for 10 seasons? Although Boswell has a lower field goal percentage than Shawn Suisham’s 87.9%, he has 45 more games on his resume. Berry’s punting average is only 2.1 feet longer than Daniel Sepulveda, but Berry had 73 more punts downed within the 20.
QB - MASON RUDOLPH (17 games, 2,366 yds, 16 tds, 11 ints)
Landry Jones may have won his overtime games, but Mase keeps finding ways to stick around. His journey in the black and gold goes deeper than Michael Vick, Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich.
RB - JAMES CONNER (50 games, 2,302 yds, 22 tds)
FB - ROOSEVELT NIX (‘17 Pro Bowl)
I didn’t include a fullback on the 53, but I have to recognize Rosie’s Pro Bowl season in 2017.
WR - MARTAVIS BRYANT (17 TDS)
TE - MATT SPAETH
OT - CHUKWUMA OKORAFOR (52 starts)
Apologies to Trai Essex and Matt Feiler, but Chuks is quietly becoming a pretty dependable tackle, making the upcoming camp battles at tackle must-see action.
OG - CHRIS KEMOEATU
OC - JUSTIN HARTWIG (32 starts)
OLB - JASON WORILDS (73 games, 25.5 sacks)
ILB - VINCE WILLIAMS (121 games, 479 tacks, 20.5 sacks, 2 int)
CB - DESHEA TOWNSEND (40 games, 22 starts, 99 tackles, 0 sacks, 5 int)
CB - STEVEN NELSON (30 games, 30 starts, 109 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 int)
S - SEAN DAVIS (64 games, 259 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5 int)
S - TYRONE CARTER (48 games, 19 starts, 140 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 int)
Let me know what changes you’d make, and who you’d start in each room.
Kyle Chrise is the host of “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” New episodes debut every Thursday. Check out the latest episode on the player.