(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports released his annual top 100 players in the NFL rankings on Tuesday and three Steelers made his list -- outside linebacker T.J. Watt (6th), free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (60th) and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (65th).
Below is what Prisco had to say about each Steelers player.
"He led the NFL in sacks with 15 and was the runner-up as Defensive Player of the Year, despite missing one game. He is also a force against the run," Prisco wrote of Watt.
"I left him off the list last year, and heard plenty about it. He earned his right to be on the list this season after a slow start in 2020. He is a rangy safety that fits perfectly in the NFL game," Prisco wrote of Fitzpatrick.
"His sack numbers fell from nine to four last season, but he still had 19 quarterback hits. He is also a good run player, which is key in their scheme," Prisco wrote of Heyward.
Watt coming in at No. 6 and ranked as the second-best defensive player in the NFL, just behind Aaron Donald, made sense in Prisco's rankings, as Watt arguably should have won Defensive Player of the Year over Donald last season.
Prisco, deservingly so, got a lot of heat last year for leaving Fitzpatrick off his top 100 list, but he had him at No. 60 this year and ranked as the third-best safety in the league behind Budda Baker and Jessie Bates. Fitzpatrick arguably could have been ranked ahead of them, but Prisco's safety rankings are at least better than PFF's, who had Fitzpatrick ranked fifth and Harrison Smith at No. 2.
Heyward came in at No. 65 and was ranked sixth among interior defensive linemen behind the aftermentioned Donald, Chris Jones, Leonard Williams, Grady Jarrett and DeForest Buckner. Heyward arguably could have been a little higher, but Prisco did a pretty accurate job with his interior defensive linemen rankings.
Prisco also mentioned that Steelers guard David DeCastro just missed his top 100 list.