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Steelers 10 Best Players in 2023

The Pittsburgh Steelers top 10 players are...

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan has made quite the grand entrance as his first offseason as the head man in charge has received glowing reviews all around. 

On paper, Pittsburgh certainly looks like an improved team from the one that we saw narrowly miss the postseason a year ago. As the team looks to make some noise in the fall, it's time to take a look at the most important pieces to the puzzle which will be leading the way.

These rankings will be based on a subjective balance of talent and production. Some of the things that will not be factored in as much will be age (or future performance) and positional value. 

Here We Go.

10: RB Najee Harris

Harris' 2022 season was a bit of an adventure. He suffered a foot injury prior to the season, which seemingly lingered all the way up until the bye week. Once he got healthy, he was a big catalyst in assisting the offense in finally getting off the ground. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada relied heavily on the running game down the stretch, with Harris leading the charge. He'll begin his third season as a pro running behind what should be the best offensive line that he's played with, which should hopefully aid him in improving some otherwise lackluster efficiency numbers. 

9: WR George Pickens

The youngest player to make the top ten list, Pickens had a very defined role within the Steelers offense last season as the team's primary field stretching, vertical threat. It's safe to say that he was just what the doctor ordered, consistently winning over the top and showing a gift for winning in contested catch situations. With 16 catches over 20+ yards down the field, Pickens can still carry that role heading into 2023 but should also be tasked with more responsibility to run a more diverse route tree as he heads into year two. With an offseason focus on becoming a more complete, diverse wide receiver, Pickens should continue climbing this list at a rapid rate. 

8: LG Isaac Seumalo

It was no secret that the Pittsburgh front office was putting a hefty emphasis on upgrading in the trenches this offseason, and Isaac Seumalo was their main target along the interior, inking him to a three-year, $24 million dollar deal early in free agency. His move to right guard last season was an effective one, helping bolster an annually dominant Philadelphia Eagles offensive line which was just one win away from hoisting the Super Bowl trophy in 2022. Seumalo is a versatile, heavy-handed lineman who should immediately provide consistency up front. The key will be staying healthy as he enters his 30s, which has been arguably his biggest challenge throughout his career. 

7: RG James Daniels

Like his new running mate Seumalo, Daniels also enjoyed a good amount of success in his first season at right guard with the Steelers. Last year's prized free agent was pretty easily their best offensive lineman during the regular season after struggling early on throughout training camp and the preseason while adjusting to offensive line coach Pat Meyer's philosophy. Daniels is a very good athlete for his position and has solidified himself as one of the most reliable pass protectors in the game after not allowing a sack last season, according to PFF. At 25 years old, Daniels should be a staple within Pittsburgh's offensive infrastructure for years to come.

6: TE Pat Freiermuth

The Penn State product saw more downfield work last season, which resulted in a significant increase in his per-target efficiency. Freiermuth was very clearly the team's best option in the slot last season and was a monster on choice/option routes where he could attack defender's leverage underneath as an option for Kenny Pickett during his rookie season. For a receiving group that struggled to create much after the catch, Freiermuth's unique ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands was both necessary and impressive. He's already one of the better receiving threats at his position, and if he can become a more reliable in-line blocker, he should become a regular candidate for the Pro Bowl. 

5: EDGE Alex Highsmith

It's not often that you find ultra-productive edge defenders outside the first round, but the Steelers struck gold with Alex Highsmith when they selected him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 2022 was the definition of a breakout season for Highsmith, who accumulated 14.5 sacks, by far the most on the defensive front. Highsmith wins primarily with speed and has a devastating inside spin move to punish offensive tackles when they overset him outside. Highsmith will look to replicate his success again as he enters a contract year. His status on this list is likely secure, provided Pittsburgh is able to retain his services moving forward. 

4: WR Diontae Johnson

Johnson made history but for all the wrong reasons last season, registering the most catches in NFL history without a touchdown catch. However, Johnson was still the same crafty separator with the ability to break off even the stickiest cornerbacks in the league. He can certainly be a bit maddening at times, but his skill set as a press man beater is insanely valuable in today's league. The offense will likely continue its run-heavy tendencies this upcoming season, but volume aside, Johnson's reign as the number-one wide receiver on the roster should continue. If Pickett takes a leap in year two, the 5-10 wideout should have no issue going over 1,000 yards in 2023, as their connection should only grow stronger.

3: DE Cam Heyward

At 33 years old, Heyward got off to a relatively slow start last season, especially for his standards, with only one sack in his first five appearances before getting scorching hot down the stretch. The longest-tenured player on the Steelers roster, Heyward is still strong as an ox and one of the league's best interior power rushers with a strong bull rush to collapse the pocket. He's been one of Pittsburgh's best players for quite a while now and continues to cement his legacy as one of the most accomplished players of his era. His late-season resurgence offers some realistic hope that he could potentially sustain more success entering 2023. 

2: FS Minkah Fitzpatrick

To be fair, Minkah Fitzpatrick would be #1 on a bunch of other teams' lists of best players. Kevin Colbert's trade for Fitzpatrick during the 2019 season is almost assuredly to go down as one of the best moves of his potential Hall of Fame career. Fitzpatrick notched six interceptions last season and is absolutely one of the most dangerous defensive playmakers in the sport, capable of flipping the script at any given time. Whether it's playing centerfield or in the robber role, quarterbacks have to be conscious of where #39 is on every snap or risk making a game-alerting mistake. At 26 years old and locked up on a well-deserved contract, he's in the prime of his career and is one of the foundational cornerstones for this franchise moving forward.

1: EDGE T.J. Watt

After securing Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2021, Watt, unfortunately, missed a good chunk of this past season with a pectoral injury and also underwent cleanup knee surgery in the meantime. When he returned, the Steelers' defense started to heat up even if Watt admittedly was not himself, playing at less than 100%. Having said that, one injury-riddled season doesn't take away from the fact that he's one of, if not the premier speed rusher in the game with a lethal cross-chop move. Pittsburgh is a completely different team when Watt is on the field, as evidenced by their record in games that he participates in. The national media seems to be shifting their focus to other players at his position, but 2023 will provide him an opportunity to quickly remind them of how dominant he truly is when available. Injuries are the only likely outcome preventing him from remaining near the top of this list next season.

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