The Pittsburgh Steelers have had pretty good success in drafts with talented one-two punches at the top. Check out some of these dynamic draft duos of the past 50 years:
- 2016: Artie Burns and Sean Davis
- 2014: Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt
- 2011: Cameron Heyward and Marcus Gilbert
- 2007: Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley
- 2005: Heath Miller and Bryant McFadden
- 2001: Casey Hampton and Kendrell Bell
- 2000: Plaxico Burress and Marvel Smith
- 1995: Mark Bruener and Kordell Stewart
- 1994: Charles Johnson and Brentson Buckner
- 1992: Leon Searcy and Levon Kirkland
- 1987: Rod Woodson and Delton Hall
- 1972: Franco Harris and Gordon Gravelle
- 1971: Frank Lewis and Jack Ham
- 1970: Terry Bradshaw and Ron Shanklin
Of course, 1974 was blockbuster when it netted Pittsburgh the legendary haul of Lynn Swann and Jack Lambert. Yes, they got a receiver out of USC and a linebacker. Fast forward to 2017, the Steelers selected linebacker TJ Watt out of Wisconsin and a Trojan from Southern Cal in the form of WR John (JuJu) Smith-Schuster. Now it’s way too early to be penciling these guys in for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2037, but they deserve to be celebrated based on the first half of their freshman NFL campaigns.
Watt (you know who his brothers are, so I don't have to list them here) has lived up to lofty expectations. With two sacks in both his first preseason and regular season games, No. 90 has helped breathe life into the Steelers’ pass rush. His dancing skills are another thing altogether though. Trent Jordan Watt has four sacks, an interception and 28 tackles on the season. His leaping ability has been exceptional and his coverage skills are improving. Watt is the future of the defense. But is he the best Steeler rookie in the class of 2017?
John Smith-Schuster (or JuJu) has taken the city of Pittsburgh by storm with his youthful exuberance and exciting style of play. However, some Steeler fans initially complained about his selection due to the team's glut of receivers. Now with Martavis Bryant's discord, JJSS has supplanted Bryant as the new Robin to Antonio Brown's Batman.
The legend of JuJu grows by the week. His "hide-and-go-seek", Dragon Ball Z and stationary bike-locking celebrations have been joyful displays that can make the crustiest old yinzer crack a smile from their pierogie hole. JuJu has also put the training camp advice of Hines Ward to great use by becoming a valuable blocker, although he’s taken some penalties early on. The youngest player in league history to score four TDs and have over 150 yards in a single game is also the youngest player in the league right now. He infamously had his sole mode of transportation, a bicycle, stolen and returned last week. After breaking the Steelers team record with a 97-yard reception for a score in Detroit last week, No. 19 tweeted out the negatives listed by scouts pre-draft and voiced surprise in his accomplishment because his Madden 17 speed rating is merely a dismal 82. (Madden since corrected that error.) But is JuJu the most valuable rookie?
Watt was named Defensive Rookie of the Week in Week 1, while Smith-Schuster not only was named Offensive Rookie of the Week in Week 8, he was the Offensive Player of the Week overall.
It's not very often that the Steelers have one stalwart perform so well in their rookie year, let alone two. So Steelers Nation needs to realize how special Kevin Colbert, the draft room and these rooks are. Whether you're on Team JuJu or Team TJ, the most important thing is Team Steelers and a team title over individual honors. Either way, the future looks very bright for the Heinz Field faithful. So you can call one better than the other, but I'm sure they'd both rather be called Super Bowl victors.