In any other year where injuries didn’t decimate them, the Pittsburgh Steelers would have likely put as many as six guys on the Pro Bowl roster but this isn’t any other year. Despite Le’Veon Bell, Kelvin Beachum and Maurkice Pouncey all out with injuries for the majority of the season, the Steelers have persevered.
The fact that the Steelers are where they are in the AFC Playoff race is due to the three men who were voted into the 2015 Pro Bowl.
Ben Roethlisberger, who missed four games due to injury, was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl. He’ll be joined by Antonio Brown and Pro Bowl newcomer David DeCastro.
The numbers of Big Ben and Brown speak for themselves but in the case of offensive guard DeCastro, there are few numbers to go by but no shortage of reasoning as to why he’s been selected. With two of the Steelers’ offensive linemen down for the season, DeCastro accelerated his game to a new level.
His run blocking was rarely in question while his pass blocking was always a “work in progress.” This season however, he elevated his skills in both areas and that’ why he’s headed to the Pro Bowl.
While those three guys are more than deserving, there are definitely three other guys left on the outside looking in who were very capable of making it. Marcus Gilbert, DeAngelo Williams and Cam Heyward all deserved better fates in my opinion.
For Williams, his play has spoken for itself all season long. He’s just a yard shy of 800 rushing on the season and has 1,100 combined yards and while that doesn’t rank him in the upper echelon of the league, I don’t know that his true value this season was really understood by voters.
In Gilbert’s case, I admit my black and gold glasses are on when I say he could have easily gotten a trip to the Pro Bowl. I say this because of his vast improvement in recent years. He’s not normally thought of as one of the great tackles and much of that is because he doesn’t play on the left side but he proved he was more than deserving in a season where he has given up just one sack.
There’s no doubt however that the biggest snub was the omission of Cam Heyward. Like many 3-4 defensive ends, Heyward flies under the radar because his numbers don’t run parallel with more traditional 4-3 ends who usually have higher sack totals.
If you don’t watch Heyward on a weekly basis like most Steelers’ fans do then you don’t see his impact. It’s an impact that doesn’t always show up in the stats either. No one hustles the way Heyward does on this defense and that isn’t a shot at anyone because Heyward just flat-out hustles every single play and it’s more noticeable with a guy of his size than it might be with others.
Hustling aside though, Heyward forces offensive lines to account for him with sometimes more than just one guy and that can have a ripple effect on the rest of the offensive line.
I know he has to be disappointed right now but at the same time I wouldn’t want to be the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line because I have a feeling hell is coming in a 97 jersey on Sunday.
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