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The best pass rushers 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, it’s time to switch sides of the ball and look at a couple areas of the defense. Before moving on, here at the offensive groups who have been covered so far:

Rushers
Receivers
Quarterbacks
Tight Ends

Today it’s time to check out players who rush the passer using sacks as the measuring statistic. Although sacks are not the end-all to pass rushing stats, they are the easiest stat as they are officially kept by the NFL. 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 10.0 sacks in 2022, their overall rank in sacks last season, and the week in which they will face the Steelers. For reference sake, Alex Highsmith is sixth on the list with 14.5 sacks while Cam Heyward is tied for 17th with 10.5 sacks in 2022.

For this exercise, players from the same teams will not be combined. In two of the three cases, one of the two players is new to the team for 2023.

Nick Bosa (1st)
San Francisco 49ers
Week 1

It’s not like Nick Bosa is going to sneak up on Steelers fans. Leading the NFL in 2022 with 18.5 sacks, Bosa will be a good test for the Steelers tackles in Week 1 so much so the thought of who is going to be on the field will have Bosa factored into the equation. The Steelers have only faced the younger of the NFL Bosa brothers once, which was early in his rookie season where Bosa only had one tackle and no sacks. But having a matchup in Week 1 featuring the two most recent NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners will make for an interesting talking point.

Myles Garrett (t-2nd)
Cleveland Browns
Week 2, Week 11

The Steelers are very familiar with Myles Garrett, so it’s not that his abilities need to be outlined. Garrett has faced the Steelers 11 times in his career and started off strong having four sacks in his first three games through 2018. But from the 2019 season on, and Steelers fans should know what happened in the first matchup of that year, Garrett has only managed three sacks in eight games.

Matt Judon (t-4th)
New England Patriots
Week 14

The Steelers are very familiar with Matt Judon during his time in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens. Only having three sacks in nine games with Baltimore when facing the Steelers, Judon had a sack last year against the Steelers and his first season with the New England Patriots. But as you will see you later, Judon was not the only Patriot to reach double-digit sacks in 2022.

Maxx Crosby (t-8th)
Las Vegas Raiders
Week 3

Last season was the first year Maxx Crosby had double-digit sacks since his rookie season in 2019 as he reached 12.5 in 2022. Crosby has faced the Steelers twice in his career but has yet to get a sack credited to him.

Josh Uche (t-12th)
New England Patriots
Week 14

It’s quite interesting that Josh Uche for the Patriots reached double digit sacks in 2022 but yet was not credited with a start in any games. In fact, Uche only had one game all season in which he played more than 50% of the defensive snaps which was Week 14 in Arizona where he had 3.0 sacks. It his only matchup against the Steelers which came last season, Uche had no statistics recorded and played 20 defensive snaps.

Javon Hargrave (t-14th)
San Francisco 49ers
Week 1

When it comes to familiarity, it’s hard to get any more familiar with a player than one that spent the first four seasons of their NFL career in Pittsburgh. One of five defensive tackles on the list with double-digit sacks, Javon Hargrave is the only one the Steelers face in 2023. Additionally, joining a new team will be interesting to see how the sack production comes from Hargrave as 2022 was his first double-digit campaign in his career. When it comes to facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hargrave did so twice in his three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and had 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles. The addition of Hargrave on the 49ers defense will also make it difficult for any team to simply focus on Nick Bosa, especially the first week of the season before there is much game tape to study.

Za’Darius Smith (19th)
Cleveland Browns
Week 2, Week 11

The second former Baltimore Raven on this list, Za’Darius Smith returns to the AFC North after four seasons of shifting over to the NFC with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Once again, familiarity will not be an issue with Smith as he faced the Steelers in seven games between 2015 and 2018 and had 3.0 sacks. But all of Smith’s sacks against the Steelers came in 2015. While Smith will now be paired up with Myles Garrett for the first time in his career, playing across from Terrell Suggs during his time in Baltimore is something the Steelers had dealt with for several seasons.

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