5 Steelers Earn Pro Bowl Honors, Led by TJ Watt


Joe Sargent/Getty Images Jeff Driskel #9 of the Denver Broncos is sacked by Cameron Heyward #97 and T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 20, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On Monday evening the Pittsburgh Steelers had five players named to the 2021 Pro Bowl team, making it the twentieth consecutive season that the club is sending multiple players to the Pro Bowl. It’s the fifth straight year that the Steelers have had five or more honorees.

T.J. Watt & Co.

Not surprisingly, three of the five selections are Steelers defenders, led by outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who has already won AFC Defensive Player of the Month twice this season, in both September and November.

It’s the second time Watt has been named to the Pro Bowl. Coming into Monday night’s game vs. Cincinnati he was second in the NFL in sacks with 12; he also leads the NFL in quarterback hits (38) and tackles for loss (19).

Watt is joined on the roster by defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Heyward is a Pro Bowler for the third consecutive season, already responsible for 41 tackles (24 solo), plus three sacks, one interception and three passes defensed.

As for Fitzpatrick, he’s a Pro Bowler for the second year in a row, with 59 tackles (42 solo), along with nine passes defensed, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

2 Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Linemen Make the Pro Bowl

Meanwhile, two Steelers offensive linemen were selected to the 2021 Pro Bowl. As noted by Steelers.com, “guard David DeCastro was voted to his sixth Pro Bowl and center Maurkice Pouncey was voted to his ninth Pro Bowl, despite both of them missing time this year.”

But those two selections are going to be very controversial, at least in some circles, and not just because the Steelers have arguably the worst rushing offense in the NFL (last in the league with 1,158 yards, 3.7 yards per carry entering Monday night’s game).

Pro Football Focus has been critical of Maurkice Pouncey receiving Pro Bowl selections in the past, having referred to him as a good candidate to serve as the center on a hypothetical All-Average Team. This year’s selection isn’t going to make them happy, either, as PFF has him rated as the 28th-best center in the NFL in 2020, with a 58.4 overall grade and a 53.0 run blocking grade.

By way of comparison, the other AFC center selected to the Pro Bowl is Ryan Kelly of the Indianapolis Colts, who PFF ranks 12th among centers with a 69.3 grade.

By contrast, PFF says it would choose Brandon Linder of the Jacksonville Jaguars and J.C. Tretter of the Cleveland Browns as the AFC Pro Bowlers at the center position.

As for the selection of David DeCastro, PFF has been consistently impressed with DeCastro in the past, but has him rated as just the 28th-best offensive guard in the NFL this season, with a 66.9 overall grade that is dragged down by a nearly league-low 52.0 running grade.

In case you’re wondering, PFF regards Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio as the two best guards in the AFC this season, followed by Shaq Mason of the New England Patriots.

The Pro Bowl game will not be played in 2021; it was slated to take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on January 31st.

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