The Pittsburgh Steelers roster is filled with talent on both sides of the ball, which has propelled them to a 7-4 start, and into the thick of the playoff push. Despite injuries and poor play from some, the Steelers have managed to overcome these things and would have the fifth seed in the AFC if the season ended today.
The Steelers' best players have helped put the team on their backs, and come the end of the season some of them might be selected to attend the Pro Bowl. Here's where their players stack up in the odds to make the Pro Bowl if the season ends today.
Locks, if they stay Healthy
TJ Watt, Chris Boswell
There should be no surprise that these two should make the Pro Bowl if the season ended today. TJ Watt is in the midst of yet another Defensive Player of the Year caliber campaign, as he leads the league in sacks with 13, and has made his fair share of splash plays to take the ball away from the opposition. This has become the norm for Watt, who has cemented himself as one of the premier defensive players in the sport, and is on a fast track to Canton if he can stay healthy.
Chris Boswell is another player who should easily make the Pro Bowl this year. Boswell has been as steady as they come at the kicker position ever since he signed with the Steelers in 2015. Boswell is one of the league's most accurate and clutch kickers and has an extremely strong leg.
Despite playing in one of the toughest stadiums in the league to kick in, that hasn't slowed Boswell down. While Justin Tucker holds the crown for the best kicker in the league, you'd be hard-pressed to find another kicker in the NFL you'd take over Boswell, which is why he deserves to be in the Pro Bowl this year.
On the Fence
Alex Highsmith, Joey Porter Jr., Keanu Benton
These next three players are all integral pieces to the Steelers' defense, however, none are locks to make the Pro Bowl this year. Alex Highsmith is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and often gets overshadowed because he plays opposite TJ Watt.
He's proven how dominant he can be this year by coming up with some clutch plays for the Steelers, pressuring the quarterback, and taking the ball away. However, unlike Watt, the pressures haven't translated to high-level sack production this season. So while he has played at a super high level, unless he goes on a tear down the stretch it appears unlikely he'll make the Pro Bowl.
As for Joey Porter Jr. and Keanu Benton, the dilemma comes down to the fact that they're rookies. Porter has shown that he has the makings of being a true shutdown corner at the NFL level, yet he wasn't officially named a starter until halfway through the season, so the sample size is small.
In Benton's case, he has been dominant on tape all year long being disruptive in the run game, and proving to be an awesome find for the Steelers in the draft this year. However, due to the position, he plays he doesn't record a ton of sacks, as he sits at only 1 thus far, and when it comes to Pro Bowl voting, flashy numbers, and name recognition are what get you Pro Bowl votes, and unfortunately for Benton he doesn't have either right now.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, George Pickens
Finally, we have two long shots who are unlikely to make the Pro Bowl but have an outside chance. First, Minkah Fitzpatrick has an outside chance due to his name recognition as one of the best safeties in the league. He likely has missed too much time due to injuries to make the Pro Bowl, but if he comes up with a few key takeaways down the stretch to lead the Steelers to the Playoffs, people may forget about the games played and vote him in based on merit.
Then there's George Pickens, who has flashed his upside all year long. That's the key though, it has only been flashed. He has not consistently produced this year, and that's not all on him, as play-calling and quarterback play have led the offense to be dysfunctional for much of the year.
However, as the dynamic receiver that he is, he has the ability to rip off some massive games, with well over 100 yards and a touchdown or two. If he can chip in a few boom games down the stretch, while flashing some highlight catches he has an outside chance of making the Pro Bowl, particularly at a position where many of the top players may opt out.
It remains to be seen which players will indeed make the Pro Bowl in 2023, but the Steelers should have at least two players representing them in Orlando. And, if these players can step up the rest of the year and forget about the Pro Bowl, the Steelers should be set to make the NFL Playoffs and hopefully make a deep playoff run.