Predicting the top 10 Steelers of 2014
The NFL Network just concluded its Top 100 player series Wednesday night. The No. 1 player was Peyton Manning followed by Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy.
The highest-ranked Steelers player was Antonio Brown at No. 23. Ben Roethlisberger was No. 31 and Troy Polamalu was No. 61. The network had NFL players do the voting and its rankings were based on 2013 performance.
With training camp two weeks away let’s name the top 10 Steelers of 2014 with a twist. We’ll look ahead and predict how they’ll do.
1. Ben Roethlisberger – Running the no-huddle offense with regularity, Roethlisberger throws for 3,900 yards and 27 touchdowns and leads the Steelers back to the playoffs. It’s not his best statistical season, but that’s because the running game came back to life.
2. Antonio Brown – Brown can’t match the monster numbers he posted in 2013, but it’s not his fault. Roethlisberger spreads the wealth and the Steelers don’t throw as much. Brown still catches 95 passes for 1,250 yards and scores eight times.
3. Jason Worilds – Playing for a long-term contract, Worilds has plenty of reason to produce. He comes through with 14 sacks and forces four fumbles.
4. Le’Veon Bell – With an improved offensive line and a blocking scheme tailored to his skill set, Bell rushes for 1,100 yards and scores 12 touchdowns. He also catches 50 passes for 500 receiving yards.
5. Lawrence Timmons – Timmons returns to his 2012 form. He blitzes more, creates more turnovers and leads the team in tackles.
6. David DeCastro – The Steelers rise from 27th in the league in rushing to 12th and DeCastro earns his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
7. Cameron Heyward – Heyward records a career-high six sacks and anchors an improved defensive line.
8. Jarvis Jones – Benefitting from the tutelage of new assistant coach Joey Porter, Jones records seven sacks and shows some of the promise that made him a first-round draft pick.
9. Ryan Shazier – Shazier starts all 16 games and has the sort of impact Kendrell Bell did when he burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2001. Shazier has six sacks and his speed causes all sorts of problems for opposing offenses.
10. Markus Wheaton – Wheaton steps up in his second season and catches 55 passes for 650 yards and scores six touchdowns to provide Roethlisberger with a viable second option in the passing game.
The next five – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Lance Moore, Heath Miller, Maurkice Pouncey
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