When it comes to the offseason, rankings are a natural part of the process. Depending on the website who is producing those rankings, some put more stock into these than others. Start talking about Pro Football Focus (PFF) and you start to experience some serious skepticism from fan bases.
Maybe it’s the subjective grades they give out, or maybe people just cringe at the thought of Cris Collinsworth somehow being involved in the company.
Either way, when PFF puts out rankings, people tend to pay attention. Some just to mock the rankings. Recently, they ranked the top defensive line units in the NFL, and while the Pittsburgh Steelers were just outside the Top 10 in offensive line rankings...the defensive line was in the Top 5.
Let’s check out the rankings:
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh’s defensive line boasts some elite players, even if interior defender Cameron Heyward turned 34 in March and edge defender T.J. Watt earned his lowest grade since 2018 in an injury-plagued year.
Edge defender Alex Highsmith had a breakout season in 2022, finishing 24th at his position in overall grade (78.0). However, the unit lacks the depth it once had and needs rookie Keeanu Benton to play well right off the bat for the Steelers to retain their place in this top five.
As most fans are curious about the Top 10, Steelers fans are typically concerned about where the teams who call the AFC North are ranked. Let’s take a look at the divisional rankings:
When you include pass rushers into this ranking system, it is no surprise why the Steelers rank as high as they did. T.J. Watt, if healthy, is of another planet, and Alex Highsmith is coming off a 14.5 sack season. Throw in Markus Golden as a rotational edge rusher and you are bolstering the unit.
Along the defensive line, Cam Heyward remains a force to be reckoned with, Larry Ogunjobi is reportedly healthy, and Keeanu Benton was a 2nd Round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft of the team.
A lot of potential residing within the defensive front, and the hope is they can live up to that potential in 2023 and beyond.
But what do you think of the rankings? Do you see the Steelers as being too high? Or not high enough? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below and stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.