The Steelers had 4 players make it onto the NFL 100, the best 100 players in the NFL. There were a few names missing from the list however.
The long journey of the NFL 100 appears to be over. The drip by drip rollout that has lasted for weeks has come to an end and Cam Newton stands above them all. But there is strong representation from the black and gold on the list, and a few names missing as well.
The NFL 100 is a list voted on by NFL players. It’s put together and published by NFL.com and it’s called the NFL 100, if that wasn’t yet clear at this point. So take what you want from that. That may lend more legitimacy to the rankings in your opinion, it may not. But generally, most best player in the NFL lists are going to shake out pretty similarly. Different perspectives, but we’re all watching same game.
Before we talk about who got snubbed, let’s talk about who got the love.
Antonio Brown came in at number 4. Only Newton, Tom Brady, and JJ Watt ranked higher. We all know who Brown is. 6th round pick, short and quick, returned kicks, played some slot, resigned and got hot, now he’s on top. Any questions?
These factors make his presence on the list even more impressive. He’s a 6th round pick, he’s short, and he play wide receiver. These are things that bring your ranking down. But in 2013 Brown made 110 catches for 1499 yards. In 2014 he made 129 catches for 1698 yards. In 2015 he made 136 catches for 1834 yards. You can’t deny that.
The next Steeler was Big Ben. He came in at 21. The quarterbacks ranked above him were Newton, Brady, Carson Palmer, and Russell Wilson. Now you can debate Palmer and Wilson with Ben. I think it pretty obvious Ben would win but for some reason Ben doesn’t get much respect on lists despite people gushing about him at any given time.
Early on Ben wasn’t a guy with great stats and he got a reputation as a quarterback who wins rather than produces great stats. Maybe that still lingers. Maybe people just don’t like Ben. I don’t know what it is but whenever there’s a list of QBs or players, you can bet Ben will be listed below players he’s better than. I think if he had to choose between rings and ranks though, you know what he’d pick.
Le’Veon Bell came in at 46. This is a steep drop from 16 last year. But given the fact that Bell hardly played, I can’t be too picky about his placement. Bell is obviously the back that, if healthy, almost any team in league would start over whatever back they currently have. As good as Bell is, he works hard. His post rookie physical change demonstrates that. Oh ya, and have you heard he’s patient and has great vision?
I bet you have. But he gets injured every season. By the Bengals, every season. So we can expect better than 46, assuming the Bengals can avoid accidentally injuring all our star players. Hmm, they never seem to accidentally injure unimportant players. Coincidence, I’m sure. As Roger Goodell knows, the only thing worse than intentionally injuring players, is the public talking about intentionally injuring players.
Finally, Cam Heyward! Cam came in at 88. Yay for Cam. No complaints here. Good old Cam Heyward has been one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the league for a few years now and he’s finally getting some recognition. He’s a player like Lawrence Timmons where you can make a case for them to go to Hawaii every year, but they seldom actually get to.
Cam isn’t just a great player but he’s a leader as well. He’s a Tomlin guy through and through, from his work ethic to his demeanor in public, he’s one the Steelers you can tell has bought into the Tomlin way. He, and Timmons, were the pillars this new defense was built on. So congrats Cam. Now start working on that beard.
But now we come to the snubs. In any list, Steelers will get snubbed. The team is regularly glorified by the media but the players get snubbed. Maybe I’m just biased. But go ahead and google pro bowl players for the Browns and Steelers over the past decade and compare that with the teams’ records. I think you’ll start to see what I’m talking about. Regardless, let’s get down to business.
David DeCastro was biggest snub. He definitely should have been on the list. He’s still a fairly young guy, and this being voted on by players there are presumably some voters who have still not even played against DeCastro. And being a guard, you’re not going to hear his name a lot in the media.
But you may have heard he’s a first team All-Pro. You may have also heard he’s a Pro Bowler. You may have also heard he was the best lineman last year in the possibly the best offense in the league. DeCastro is a smart as he is fierce. He’s strong but his spatial awareness in pulling and getting to the next level make him the perfect compliment to Bell.
Marcus Gilbert is another player who should have made the list. Gilbert is slightly more understandable than DeCastro as people didn’t really realize Gilbert was great until after the season. He was just the guy across from Kelvin Beachum, that short fella dominating the left.
But now Beachum is gone and people have had time to look over film and get an impression of Gilbert and people are impressed. He’s currently pulling in a 94 overall in Madden. He’s grown slowly since being taken in the second round in 2011.
Now there are others. Stephon Tuitt could be on the list, but he’s young, and he’ll probably be there next year. So I won’t fuss too much about this. DeAngelo Williams is another who could have made it. But it’s officially a list of the top 100 of 2016, and even if we can be worried about a Bell injury we can’t anticipate it, at least not yet. I’ve been ringing the Roosevelt Nix bell for a bit but he’s a fullback and it’s after 1995 so he’s not making this list.
So overall, I’m happy with who made the list. DeCastro was a big snub, Gilbert less so. The rest are nit picky but legitimate. Regardless, congrats to the triplets and especially Cam Heyward.