Promising Steelers player deservingly lands on PFF's 2024 All-Breakout Team

This young Steelers player is the perfect breakout candidate in 2024.
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Since Omar Khan and Andy Weidl took over the front office, they have given Steelers fans more than enough reason for optimism. Pittsburgh loaded up on talent during the 2023 NFL Draft and the front office proved this wasn't a fluke when they earned the highest consensus draft grades the following year in 2024.

While their young draft picks obviously need to prove that they are as good as advertised, we already started to see the fruits of their promising draft picks.

Last year, Broderick Jones flashed his freakish athleticism on the offensive line while Joey Porter Jr. showcased sticky coverage ability in the secondary. Nick Herbig is also on the fast track to proving why he was one of the best value picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. But there's another player who is arguably the most impressive of the group.

From very early in his rookie season, we could see that Keeanu Benton had a rare blend of size and quickness. At nearly 6'4'' and 309 pounds with roughly 34'' arms, a big interior defender should not be able to have such an explosive get-off.

Recently, Benton was recognized on PFF's 2024 All-Breakout Team -- joining Karl Brooks of the Green Bay Packers as the two interior defenders to make this list.

Steelers DL Keeanu Benton is the perfect breakout candidate

In 17 games as a rookie last year (9 starts) Benton recorded just 1 sack and 1 tackle for a loss. This was not at all a reflection of how disruptive and downright good he was all season. As a 22-year-old in his first NFL season, Benton showed an innate ability to knife into the backfield and change the direction of the play. Though he didn't get to clean up with easy stats, he often made everyone else's job easier.

This resulted in the rookie grading out among the top 20 interior defenders in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus. While his run defense was inconsistent at best in Year 1, his 82.6 pass-rush grade ranked 10th in the league at his position.

It's not hard to see why Benton was chosen for this list. Because of his lack of production, many outside of the Steelers fan base didn't realize how much he flashed as a rookie. In Year 2, the former Wisconsin product could put it all together with an eye-popping breakout campaign.

Keeanu Benton has shown as much promise as any young player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, and his impressive film as a rookie should have fans excited about what's in store in 2024 and beyond.