The best pass defenders from 2022 the Steelers are set to face in 2023
After taking a look over several days at some of the best offensive players at their positions in 2022 who the Steelers are scheduled to face in 2023, Thursday we switched sides of the ball to look at a couple areas of the defense. Before moving on, here are all the groups who have been covered so far:
Today it’s time to check out players who defend passes. For this one, I’m looking at two different stats for players who had the most interceptions and/or passes defensed in 2022. As I said before, there could be injuries, trades, benchings, or holdouts which could make these players not able to see the field when they face the Black and Gold. But for now, these things can’t be known for sure. This list consists of players who had at least 5 interceptions or 15 passes defensed in 2022, their overall rank in either category last season, and the week in which they will face the Steelers. For reference sake, Patrick Peterson was one of two players who qualified in both categories.
For this exercise, players from the same teams will be combined.
Tariq Woolen (t-1st INT; t-4th PD)
When looking just at players on teams the Steelers face in 2023, Tariq Woolen is the only one who made the cut in both interceptions and passes defensed. The fifth-round rookie burst onto the scene last season where he was tied for the NFL lead in interceptions and tied for fourth in passes defensed. One the big question when it comes to Woolen and facing the Steelers will be wil hel continue his hot streak all the way through Week 17 when the Steelers travel to Seattle.
Jaire Alexander (t-5th INT)
Green Bay Packers
Having a bounce-back season after missing all but four games in 2021, Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander set a career high with five interceptions and his 14 passes defensed were the second most in a season of his five-year career. Facing the Steelers in 2021, Alexander had no stats from the game.
Darious Williams (t-4th PD) & Tyson Campbell (t-6th PD)
The Jaguars had two players come up big in the pass defense department in Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell. Williams had 16 passes defensed in 12 starts this past season but with no interceptions while Campbell had 15 passes defensed starting every game and pulled in three picks. Campbell has only been with the Jaguars the last two seasons and has yet to face the Steelers while Williams has faced Pittsburgh with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 and Los Angeles Rams in 2019. But in both contests, Williams only played special teams.
Jalen Pitre (t-5th INT)
The second-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft by the Houston Texans, safety Jalen Pitre managed to pull in five interceptions in his rookie season. Only having eight passes defensed, Pitre started all 17 games for the Texans and came in fifth in the voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Tashaun Gipson (t-5th INT)
San Francisco 49ers
Playing 11 seasons in the NFL with five different teams, Tashaun Gipson is no stranger to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Facing the Steelers eight times from 2012 through 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, Gibson’s biggest performance against the Steelers came during the regular season matchup in 2017 as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars where he had two interceptions. After facing the Steelers as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2021, Gibson will be entering his second season with the 49ers as they travel to Pittsburgh to open the season.
Denzel Ward (t-6th PD) & Martin Emerson (t-6th PD)
Week 2, Week 11
With no players from the AFC North making the list for interceptions, the Cleveland Browns had two players with 15 passes defensed in 2022. Martin Emerson was a third-round pick of the Browns in 2022 and faced the Steelers twice last season where he had two passes defensed in their Week 18 matchup. As for cornerback Denzel Ward,the Steelers are very familiar with him as he intercepted two passes in his first NFL game in 2018 against the Steelers but has not had an interception in any of his seven games against Pittsburgh since.