7 Steelers with top PFF scores at their position for the 2023 preseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers capped off a perfect 2023 preseason with not just a 3–0 record, but a first team offense that scored a touchdown on every drive and a first team defense that never surrendered a first down. Although the first team offense had more of a definitive drive total, determining if it was the first team defense on the field is up to interpretation. Either way, the Steelers outscored their opponents 62–7 in the first half of their three preseason matchups.
Throughout the preseason, every player who played a snap have been given a score by Pro Football Focus (PFF). With all the preseason games complete, players can now be ranked according to the scores. When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they had seven different players finishing the top five placings for their position group.
Since we are speaking of PFF scores, I will give my typical reminder that these grades are subjective and merely the opinion of an observer at Pro Football Focus. Whether or not you agree with their opinion is your decision.
The following are the seven players on the Steelers preseason roster who finished in the top five of their position group for the preseason.
Despite only playing 11 snaps in two preseason games, T.J. Watt was the fourth ranked edge rusher this preseason. With a pass rush score of 91.9 and one sack, Watt showed a glimpse of what Steelers fans expect in just a very small sample size.
Just ahead of T.J. Watt was rookie fourth-round pick Nick Herbig who logged 63 defensive snaps on his way to his fantastic score. Logging a sack in each preseason game and with 3.5 total, Herbig had a 90.8 pass rush score as well as a 78.2 run defense score and a 75.1 coverage score.
After playing only two snaps the first preseason game, Elandon Roberts played 24 preseason snaps and had quality PFF scores across multiple categories. Roberts had an 85.4 run defense score, and 80.8 tackling score, 78.3 pass rushing score, and a 66.6 coverage score.
Despite only appearing in two preseason games, Keanu Neal had 20 snaps and gave up no receptions on two targets at safety. Neal’s highest individual score was in run defense with a score of 77.9.
Playing only 28 snaps in the preseason, Kenny Pickett turned those into five different drives all ending in a touchdown. With two of the touchdowns coming through the air, Pickett completed 13 of 15 passes for 199 yards and was credited with three big time throws by PFF. Not only did Pickett have the top offensive scoring PFF of any quarterback, he also had the best passing score of 93.7.
Position: Tight End
Although he played 51 total snaps in the preseason, 38 of them came on offense as Connor Heyward continued on multiple special teams units. Lining up in the backfield, inline, and in the slot, Heyward was targeted six times and had six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Only having a 63.2 running score despite having five rushing attempts for 16 yards, Connor Heyward had the top receiving score of 94.7 of any tight end throughout the preseason.
Position: Running back
Although you appeared in all three preseason games, Jaylen Warren saw 12 offensive snaps during the preseason. But of those snaps, six of them he was handed the ball and he rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns. His 62-yard touchdown in Week 2 of the preseason went a long way towards Warren’s score, and it gave him the top running grade of any running back with a 91.5.
So there were the seven players who finished in the top five of their position group during the preseason. For those who may be curious, the Steelers had two other players who just missed the top five in the wide receiver group with George Pickens coming in sixth with a 90.0 score and Diontae Johnson seventh with an 89.9 overall score. Taking these two players into accounts as well as those already listed above, These individual players had a great preseason according to PFF.