Revisiting and Revising 2019 Steelers Superlatives

Photo By Pittsburgh Post Gazette

By Adam McCoy

At the beginning of the season, I wrote a small piece going over a couple superlatives for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. While I had fun writing the article, it’s time to go back and see just how great (or not so great) my predictions were as I review my start of year superlatives, and see if they still hold up now with just one game left in the season.


Most Overrated: JuJu Smith-Schuster 

Original Selection: Mike Hilton

It’s not a great look to go from underrated to overrated, but the noise is there, and to put it bluntly, it has been a disappointing year for JuJu-Smith Schuster. Do I expect things to stay this way, no, but there have been a lot of external factors that have had an impact on JuJu’s 2019 season, which started with the passing of WR coach and mentor, Darryl Drake, multiple changes at the quarterback position, and an abundance of injuries throughout the year. With all that through Week 16, JuJu has 40 receptions (4th on team) for 546 yards (3rd on team) and 3 touchdowns (Tied 2nd on team). With all that being said, I don’t expect JuJu to be in this same spot next year. 


Most Underrated: Mike Hilton

Original Selection: JuJu Smith-Schuster

I remember when selecting Mike Hilton for the most overrated player at the beginning of the season, I was a little torn, but I felt like his 2018 season left a bit to be desired compared to 2017. Well 2019 has been a far cry short of a disappointment for Hilton, with 60 tackles (career high), 1 INT, 1 FF, 11 pass break-ups (career high), and 1 sack. Mike Hilton has been playing up to the level the defense as a whole has been playing, and in a contract year as well.  Let’s hope he doesn’t play his way out of Pittsburgh.


Best Player: T.J. Watt

Original Selection: Ben Roethlisberger

Unfortunately, we’ll never get to know if Big Ben would get to contend for this award, but the new man in this spot is more than deserving. Every year for T.J. Watt feels like a coming-out year for him, but this year truly might have been that year as he is starting to finally garner some national attention alongside his brother J.J. Watt. That recognition is more than deserved as well, Watt has been an absolute dominant force for the Steelers defense leading the unit and finding himself in serious consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. As of Week 16, T.J. Watt has 50 tackles, 14 sacks (5th in NFL), 2 INTS, 7 FFs (2nd in NFL), 4 FRs (4th in NFL), 14 TFL (10th in NFL), and a monstrous 34 QB hits (2nd in NFL). There is no doubt that T.J. Watt is the best player on the Steelers, and it was shown as he was voted team MVP.


For the rest of these superlatives, we won’t be picking new players, just seeing on par I was with my selections. 


Key New Addition: Devin Bush

This wasn’t much of a risky pick, and Devin Bush certainly hasn’t disappointed in his rookie year. I have often found myself watching him play and forgetting he’s a rookie out there. As of Week 17, Devin Bush has racked up 97 tackles (2nd on team), 9 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 4 FRs, and one defensive touchdown. He has shown a nose for a loose football, constantly being in an opportune position to scoop up a fumble, a great trait for a middle linebacker. Devin Bush has had quite an impact in his rookie year, and I can’t wait to see his growth moving forward. 

Honorable Mention: Minkah Fitzpatrick – It wouldn’t be fair of me to not mention Minkah here.  


Could Surprise: Steven Nelson

Not many people were overly excited about the Steven Nelson signing. Coming off a career high 4 INT’s in Kansas City the year before, there was some reason for excitement surrounding Nelson, though there was some concerns surrounding his consistency in coverage. Well Nelson has been vocal about the difference in coaching between Pittsburgh and Kansas City and the difference has been noticeable. Nelson has been nothing short of a shut-down corner this year. Nelson finds himself ranked as the #7 ranked corner according to PFF, and it’s been showing. 


Takes A Leap: James Washington

It took a little while for James Washington to get things going, but he has been pretty reliable since then.  Through Week 16, Washington has 44 catches (3rd on team), for 735 yards (1st on team) and 3 touchdowns (tied for 2nd on team). Washington has really found himself being Mr. Reliable on the deep ball and its showing with his team-leading 16.7 yards per reception. One of the most interesting developments of 2019 has been Washington’s chemistry with “4th-string” quarterback, Devlin “Duck” Hodges.  


Prove It Year: Bud Dupree

I cannot express enough how happy I am that this worked out. I was very high on Bud Dupree this off-season. There was a visible improvement in 2018, and if he could take that next step forward in 2019, he could become that terror across from T.J. Watt the Steelers are looking for. Well with one game left to play this regular season, Dupree has set career highs in tackles, tackles for loss, QB hits, sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, and even pass deflections! His 10.5 sacks are good for 2nd on the team, and is second on the team with 4 forced fumbles. Bud Dupree has absolutely earned himself a contract moving forward. Let’s hope the production keeps up.


So tell me what you think! Do you agree or disagree? Who would you have put where? Let me know in the comment section below!


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