Home Steelers History Top 50 Steelers of the 21st Century (50-41)

Top 50 Steelers of the 21st Century (50-41)

by Ian

It’s the offseason and there’s not much happening in the NFL world. In fact, as we like to say around these parts, the only news is bad news. That can take the form of player injuries, arrests, suspensions, etc. But since it’s the offseason and there isn’t much going on, we figured we’d have some fun. There have been some lists floating around on Twitter of “Who was this team’s best non-QB player this century?” While the SCB crew was debating that question, we wound up with a list of our Top 50 Steelers of the century.

The one prerequisite to this list is that the player had to play at least three seasons with the Steelers since the year 2000. So that means that recent additions like Najee Harris and Kenny Pickett are not eligible, along with one-year wonders like Flozell Adams. Since the Steelers Hall of Honor also uses the three-year timeframe as a guide for elections, we also thought it was a good parameter. You could also look at this list as our power rankings of players worthiness to be in the Hall of Honor.

Today we’ll cover the Honorable Mentions and players at 50-41 on the list. We’ll publish updated countdowns each day this week as we go all the way up to #1.

Here are the honorable mentions that did not make the list (if this had been a Top 75 they would have been on it):

Honorable Mentions

Stories Still Being Written

Alex Highsmith, Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kenny Pickett, George Pickens

Four of these guys have not yet cleared the three-year requirement for consideration on the Top 50 list. Alex Highsmith just completed a 14-sack season in his third year. On the  whole, these guys could find their names on the list some day, but the full story of their Steelers careers has yet to be written.

More Success Elsewhere

Javon Hargrave, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Hope, James Conner

All of these guys were good Steelers players, with Hope winning a Super Bowl in 2005. However, they went on to greater fame and success with other teams after they left the Steelers, which landed them just outside the Top 50 list.

Derailed By Injuries

Kendrell Bell, Shaun Suisham

Both could have made a case for inclusion in the Top 50 if injuries had not derailed their Steelers careers. It is worth noting that Suisham has the highest career field goal percentage among Steelers kickers with at least 20 attempts.

Very Good Role Players

Bryant McFadden, Mewelde Moore, Chris Hoke, Jerricho Cotchery, Tyson Alualu, Verron Haynes, Chris Fu’amatu-Ma’afala

These were guys who played some very important roles on the team that we felt were worthy of a shout-out, but their overall careers were not enough to land them in the Top 50.

With the honorable mentions out of the way, here are the first ten entries into our SCB Steelers Top 50 Players of the 21st Century list…

The Top 50 (#50-41)

50. Greg Warren

A Preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday August 14th 2015. The Jaguars defeated the Steelers 23-21.

What is a long snapper doing on this list? Well, Greg Warren was an absolute stalwart of the Special Teams unit for the bulk of the 21st century. Warren came on as the long snapper in 2005 and his career spanned 11 years, winning 2 Super Bowls (one when on IR) and going to a third. He played in 181 games, playing in all 16 games in all but 2 seasons. But his greatest value may have been seen when he wasn’t present. In 2008 he tore his ACL against the Giants and James Harrison had to attempt to long snap, and snapped the ball over the punter’s head for a safety.

49. Martavis Bryant

Bryant’s career with the Steelers lasted just three (on-field) seasons where he played 36 games and racked up 1,917 yards and 17 TDs. He exploded onto the scene halfway through the 2014 season, giving the Steelers offense the big-play threat they needed. He had four touchdowns of over 60 yards, with 3 of them longer than 80. Bryant had outstanding combination of athleticism and size and seemed to have limitless potential. Unfortunately, off-field issues resulted in a one-year suspension for violating the league’s marijuana policy. He was never quite the same after that and was traded away to the Raiders before being suspended again.

48. Kelvin Beachum

Beachum was somewhat of an afterthought in the 2012 draft, but wound up being one of the best players from that group. The Steelers took Beachum with the 248th overall pick, near the end of the 7th round, as a depth offensive lineman. They had already drafted Ohio State tackle Mike Adams in the 2nd round. But it was Beachum who would have the longest career of the draft class (11 years and counting, topping 1st round pick David DeCastro’s 9-year career). Beachum was forced into action at right tackle after Marcus Gilbert was injured in November. He played the rest of the year at right tackle. The next season, after Maurkice Pouncey was injured in the opening drive, Beachum stepped in at center to finish the game against the Titans. He then moved to left tackle after Mike Adams stunk up the joint in London and started every game for nearly two straight seasons before tearing his ACL halfway through 2015. Beachum left in free agency the following year, but started 39 games (and appeared in 44) during his 4-year tenure in Pittsburgh. He was one of the best 7th round picks of the Kevin Colbert era.

47. Diontae Johnson


Johnson quickly developed into one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite receivers. The two built a strong connection in 2020 which continued into 2021 as Johnson put up over 2000 yards and 15 TDs in just those seasons with Ben. While recent memory does slightly bias ones opinion on Johnson, he still led the team with over 800 yards last year despite not finding the end zone. His hands have been a bit of a question his whole career with 10 fumbles 31 (official) drops in four seasons. All that said, Johnson was 2nd Team All-Pro as a punt returner his rookie year and was a Pro Bowler in 2021. He is the best route-runner currently on the team and is among the better receivers in the league at creating separation. Arguably he would be much higher on this list if not for his frustrating inconsistencies.

46. Kimo von Oelhoffen

Kimo was a free agent signing by the Steeler in 2000 after starting his career in Cincinnati. He was originally signed as a nose tackle to replace Joel Steed (who retired after the ’99 season). After starting all 16 games at nose tackle in 2000, he transitioned to the 3-4 defensive end role where he would play the rest of his career. Kimo tallied a career-high 8 sacks and 8 tackles for loss in 2003. He was a strong run defender and was able to two-gap very well to hold lineman away from the inside linebackers. Kimo’s work on the inside also freed up space for Joey Porter to get after the quarterback off the edge. Unfortunately, all his good work in the trenches gets overshadowed by the most memorable play of his career, when he fell into Carson Palmer’s knee during the Wild Card game in 2005, knocking Palmer out for the game. That victory jumpstarted the Steelers run to winning Super Bowl XL. Kimo tallied 20.5 sacks and 34 TFLs in his 5-year run in Pittsburgh.

45. Jeff Reed

Reed was a solid and consistent kicker for the Steelers during the peak years of the 2000s. He joined the team in 2002, replacing the injured Todd Peterson. He missed just one extra point during his entire Steelers tenure. During the early years of the Mike Tomlin era, Reed was essentially automatic from inside of 40 yards, missing just twice from under 40 from 2007-2009. Unfortunately, it was a missed 26-yarder against the Patriots in 2010 that broke the camel’s back and resulted in his release (along with some off-field incidents from drinking). During his career in Pittsburgh, Reed also booted 13 game-winning field goals in the 4th quarter or overtime.  He was part of two Super Bowl Championship teams.

44. Bud Dupree

Dupree was the Steelers first round pick in 2015 as a young, raw, and athletic edge rusher. His career got off to a bit of a slow start but he blossomed into his own in 2019 with 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 17 QB hits. Dupree’s speed made him a very good counterpart to TJ Watt. His 2020 season was off to a great start with 8 sacks, 8 TFLs and 15 QB hits through 11 games before an ACL injury against the Washington Football Team ended his year and his Steelers tenure. Dupree signed a big free agent contract in Tennessee, but his time there was plagued by injuries after he had started 58 straight games prior to the 2020 injury.

43. Max Starks

Starks was drafted in the same 2004 class as Ben Roethlisberger. He stepped into a starting role in 2005 as part of the Super Bowl-winning squad. When Mike Tomlin took the helm, he inserted penalty-machine Willie Colon at right tackle, bumping Starks down to the swing tackle position but he still played in every game as an extra blocker. Starks moved from the right to the left after Marvel Smith’s injury and was the starting left tackle through the Super Bowl XLIII run. He was a very good friend of Ben Roethlisberger, so much so that Ben wore Starks’ jersey at camp when Starks was in a contract dispute with the Steelers. All in all, despite being shuffled around the lineup, Starks started 96 games and appeared in 125 games over 9 years.

42. Stephon Tuitt

Tuitt was the second-round pick in 2014. Coming out of Notre Dame’s dominant defensive front, he was seen as a player who could immediately help the Steelers porous run defense. When he was healthy, Tuitt proved he could be a dominant force on the inside. He was stout against the run and had the burst to get after the quarterback. Tuitt and Cam Heyward combined to be a formidable tandem on the interior of the Steelers line. Unfortunately, injuries plagued Tuitt throughout his career and he never played a full season after his rookie year. His best year came in his final season in 2020 where he broke the double-digit sack barrier, racking up 11 sacks, 10 TFLs and 25 QB hits.

41. William Gay

Gay was part of Mike Tomlin’s initial draft class in Pittsburgh. He came in as a 5th round pick without many expectations, but worked his way into a starting role (by injury necessity) in 2009 and as a full-time started in 2011. Early in his career he was often the brunt of the fanbase’s ire for giving up completions, particularly out of the slot. He left for Arizona for a year in 2012 but returned in 2013 and went on one of the wildest runs in Steelers history. Over the next 3 seasons he would intercept 5 passes and return them all for touchdowns. He is tied with Rod Woodson as the Steelers career leader in pick-sixes. Gay spent 10 of his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh and compiled 11 interceptions, 7 forced fumbles, and 81 passes defended. He appeared in 175 games for the Steelers (15 in the playoffs) and won a ring as part of the 2008 squad. After a rocky start to his career, he developed into a solid veteran corner who never missed a game during his 11 seasons.

Check back soon as we continue our countdown of the Top 50 Steelers of the 21st Century!

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