Who has been the biggest surprise on the Steelers in 2023?
The Steelers are a mere five games into the 2023 NFL season. Although it seems like they are just getting started, the Steelers are at their bye week which gives the opportunity for continued reflection.
While there are good things to focus on such as the Steelers being above .500 and in first place in the AFC North, there are also plenty of things that are not up to standard such as the offensive production and the defense giving up a large quantity of yards. But for now, let’s look at some interesting individual performances through the first five games.
To start things off, I’m going to ask the following question: Who has been the biggest surprise on the Steelers so far in 2023? When talking about a surprise, we are looking at this from a positive standpoint as a player who has exceeded expectations. Do not worry, we will be discussing disappointments tomorrow and you will have an opportunity to chime in with those as well.
While you can choose any player you want on the roster, I will offer a few suggestions. Ultimately it is your decision as you can go with one of these players or one of your own. Either way, make sure you let your thoughts known in the comments below.
Joey Porter Jr.
Although he has not seen the field as much as Steelers fans would like early in his first NFL season, when he has been called upon Joey Porter Jr. has stepped up. Pulling in a key interception in the Steelers Week 5 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, Porter has surprised many Steelers fans, especially those who felt he was drafted only because of his last name.
With Diontae Johnson going down in the Steelers first game of the season, George Pickens has seen both the positives and the negatives of being the number one receiver. First, Pickens is seeing more coverage focused on him as the Steelers primary receiving target. But in contrast of this, Pickens has seen more targets as a result of Johnson not being on the field. Either way, Pickens has stepped up and made some great catches in tight windows and has proved that there is no reason for his targets to back off even with the return of Diontae Johnson.
Not joining the Steelers until training camp already kicked off, Kwon Alexander jumped on the moving train so well that most fans probably don’t even remember he did not report with the rest of the team. Additionally, Alexander has showed up in places and made some key plays despite only being on the field in a part-time role.
While some Steelers fans felt Jones should have been a starter right from the beginning because the Steelers traded up for him, they simply weren’t reading the situation properly with this particular player. With inexperience being his biggest knock, Jones learned from the sidelines and stepped in during Week 4 when Dan Moore Jr. left the game. What was more impressive was Jones getting his first start against the Baltimore Ravens and truly rising to the occasion. Personally, I was surprised to see Jones on the field this early even though it was out of necessity, and to not see him taking major lumps as fans had to except the good with the bad has been positive thus far.
Although some people might claim they weren’t surprised, Steeler’ fans have to admit Chris Boswell did not have the strongest 2022 season. And being the second longest tenured member of the Steelers only behind Cam Heyward, having Boswell simply be adequate would have been nice. Instead, Steelers’ fans have a kicker who has been perfect through five games including knocking through a 57-yard field goal. Not only that, Boswell has had to do so while dealing with a different holder for the last two games.
Some might see this is a stretch while others probably have him pegged as their guy. Either way, Jaylen Warren has shown he has been capable of the responsibilities the Steelers have given to him through the first five games of his second season. Whether it be blitz pickup, catching the ball out of the backfield, or simply taking a handoff, Warren has been getting the job done in his current role. While some may be asking for that role to change, I am simply happy to see him doing so well with whatever the Steelers ask of him.
Pressley Harvin III
I know it’s tough to think of a big surprise being a player who has missed the last two games due to injury, but the way Pressley Harvin responded after being called out the first week of the season by his head coach has made him the player that fans were hoping to get all along since he was drafted in 2021. Now that Harvin showed what he could do over a two game stretch, he has now set the expectation at a high-level where anything short of greatness may be viewed as a disappointment.