A trio of Steelers land on Pro Football Focus' All-Preseason Team in 2023

Three Steelers are being honored for performances in the 2023 preseason (you can probably guess two of them).

Steelers, Nick Herbig
Steelers, Nick Herbig / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

As far as preseason performances go, this might have been the best collective effort I have ever seen from a Pittsburgh Steelers team in exhibition action. While we now have one fewer preseason game than we did just a few years ago, Mike Tomlin's team was firing on all cylinders for each exhibition match this summer.

The Steelers, as a whole, were awesome this preseason in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams). However, there were a few performers who stood above the rest and have given us plenty of reason to be optimistic about their futures in Pittsburgh.

Recently, Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus released his PFF Team of the 2023 Preseason while also offering up some individual player awards. Three Steelers players made the all-preseason team while one earned a PFF Player Award. These three players were QB Kenny Pickett, EDGE Nick Herbig, and TE Connor Heyward.

Kenny Pickett shined as the highest-graded quarterback during the 2023 preseason, per PFF, as he earned an overall grade of 94.7 through three exhibition games. This remarkable grade is paired with a perfect 158.3 passer rating during the preseason this year. Pickett's name was highlighted to begin the article, but the Offensive Player of the Preseason Award somehow went to Chiefs receiver, Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Nick Herbig joined Packers pass-rusher Kingsley Enagbare as the only other edge defender to make PFF's All-Preseason Team. Herbig was widely considered one of the most impressive players of the 2023 preseason, and as a result, he was labeled as the 'Rookie of Preseaon' by PFF. Here's what McGuinness wrote:

"A fourth-round draft pick who many thought would need to kick inside and become an off-ball linebacker at the next level, Nick Herbig impressed at edge defender this preseason. On the field for 44 pass-rushing snaps, he registered six pressures, including four sacks."

Gordon McGuinness, PFF

Herbig was phenomenal this summer, and he put any questions about his lack of size to rest with a dominant showing. PFF credited him with 4 sacks in limited action, and it felt like he could have had even more.

The final Steelers player who made the All-Preseason Team was second-year tight end, Connor Heyward. No longer are we looking at Heyward as 'Cam's little brother.' Connor is clearly earning a name for himself. As someone who scouted Heyward first-hand over the past two summers at Steelers training camp, I can attest to his development.

Heyward is an incredibly natural football player, and his ability to block, run routes, catch, and even run the football helped get him to where he is today. He is a Swiss army knife who can lineup at fullback, tight end, or H-back, and his versatility will be key for this offense in 2023.

With how impressive the Pittsburgh Steelers were during the 2023 preseason, there's no question that they probably could have had a few more representatives on PFF's All-Preseason Team. Still, no team had more players make the list than the Steelers. Let's hope this carries over into the NFL regular season.