(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
With it being the slow portion of the NFL offseason, Pro Football Focus is going over their top 50 players in the NFL list, and Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward came in at No. 31.
"The later into his career he gets, the better Heyward seems to play," Sam Monson of PFF wrote. "His best four seasons in terms of PFF grade have been his most recent four seasons, and Aaron Donald is the only interior lineman who has a higher overall PFF grade since 2019.
The longtime Steeler's 75 defensive stops lead all players at his position over the same period by seven, and he trails only Donald in terms of total pressures. The Los Angeles Rams star is in a world all by himself, but Heyward has a good case to be seen as the best interior defender not named Donald in the NFL — and that’s an impressive achievement."
Heyward has been consistent as they come over the last four seasons, being named to the Pro Bowl in four consecutive years and nominated as first-team All-Pro in 2017 and 2019. Heyward was also named second-team All-Pro in 2020.
A few weeks ago, Pro Football Focus ranked the 32 best players at each respective position and when it came to their interior defensive linemen rankings, they had Heyward ranked third, behind just Chris Jones of the Chiefs and three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Aaron Donald of the Rams, who was ranked No. 1.
"Heyward’s play has only improved with age," Ben Linsey of PFF wrote. "He has logged 3,416 defensive snaps over the last four seasons (fourth at the position), and his 91.9 PFF grade falls short of just Aaron Donald, Chris Jones and Fletcher Cox over that span. It’s difficult to find many faults in his overall game, with him posting both run-defense and pass-rush grades above 89.0 since 2017. Heyward, along with two other Steelers on this list, gives Pittsburgh one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the NFL."
Donald is the clear-cut best interior defensive lineman in the league, but as PFF mentioned, Heyward isn't far behind.