clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the top 10 Steelers heading into the 2023 NFL season

As the preseason approaches, we name the top 10 players on the Steelers’ roster

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers enter the preseason with a healthy dose of talent on the roster. More specifically, a large dose of young talent.

With the collection of youth leading the charge for the Steelers, as well as multiple respected veterans acting as the metaphorical Master Splinter to their Ninja Turtles, these are the ten best players on the Steelers roster.

10. George Pickens

It’s not too soon to put the second-year receiver on the list. He showcased his downfield ability and aptness for hauling in 50-50 balls in 2022, and he also led the team with four touchdown receptions.

If he can add a more refined route tree, as well as becoming a more efficient route runner, Pickens has the potential to be a star in the NFL. It will be a sophomore season full of expectations, not just for him, but for Kenny Pickett, as well.

9. Patrick Peterson

The veteran cornerback is still making plays at the age of 33. He had five interceptions last season with the Vikings, and showed that he is still more than capable of holding his own in coverage.

He was only targeted 73 times last season, and allowed just 43 receptions, per PFF. He still has at least one year of starting-caliber football to play, and he will also be a great mentor for Joey Porter Jr and Cory Trice.

8. Isaac Semaulo

The Steelers got a huge upgrade at guard, signing Seumalo from the Eagles this offseason. In over 1,100 snaps played, Seumalo allowed just one sack and three hits on the quarterback.

He also gives Pittsburgh an upgrade at run blocking, which will lead to them running to the left side a lot more than they did in 2022 when they ranked 24th in the league in runs to the left side.

7. Najee Harris

Harris’ talent is undeniable, but he needs to have a big year in 2023 to show he was worth being a first-round pick. While he has totaled over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, his average yards per carry is less than four yards.

With the aforementioned improvements up front, though, 2023 should be the season Najee Harris takes off and proves to be one of the top running backs in the league.

6. Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth became the safety blanket for Kenny Pickett down the stretch in 2022. He hauled in 63 receptions for 732 yards and two touchdowns, and his 57 yard reception against the Falcons was the Steelers longest play from scrimmage all season.

The third-year tight end is on the cusp of becoming one of the best at his position. With a full offseason to continue developing chemistry with Pickett, expect a big year from No. 88.

5. Alex Highsmith

Highsmith had a career season in 2022. He racked up 14.5 sacks and led the league with five forced fumbles, which earned him a four-year, $68 million extension. If both he and T.J. Watt can remain healthy all season, they could end up being the best pass rushing tandem in the NFL.

4. Diontae Johnson

Johnson is the most polarizing member of the Steelers. He led the team in receptions for the second consecutive season, and for the third time as a whole. In terms of gaining separation, route running, and creating his own space, he is without a doubt the best receiver on the team, and underrated across the NFL.

People will point to the “0” in the touchdowns category, but how much of that was on Johnson and how much of it was on having a new Week 1 starter, a quarterback change mid-season, and a sub-par offensive coordinator? Some Steelers fans may not want to hear it, but put Johnson somewhere like Kansas City, and he would be recognized more for the fantastic receiver he is.

3. Cam Heyward

The locker room leader for the Steelers is still at the top of his game at 34 years of age. He earned his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl selection in 2022, and had consecutive seasons of 10+ sacks for the first time in his career.

The former Ohio State Buckeye hasn’t shown any signs of losing a step, which is great news for a Steelers defense that seems to be getting more loaded.

2. Minkah Fitzpatrick

No safety has more All-Pro selections since 2019 than Fitzpatrick, who has three in that span. The best safety in football had somewhat of a down year in 2021, but rebounded in a big way this past season.

The Steelers’ defense led the NFL with 20 interceptions- Fitzpatrick had six of them, which was tied for the league lead. Pittsburgh’s defense looks poised to, once again, be one of the top units in the league, and Fitzpatrick is a big reason why.

1. T.J. Watt

No surprises here, folks. When healthy, Watt is the best edge rusher in football. His absence was felt immensely last season. With No. 90 in the lineup, the Steelers were 8-2 and allowed less than 17 points per game. Without the former Defensive Player of The Year, Pittsburgh went 1-6 and allowed 25.3 points per game and roughly 390 yards per game.

Watt is the engine that makes the Steelers run. With him, they are a threat to be a danger in the playoffs. Without him, it’s a completely different story.