On Wednesday Sam Monson unveiled Pro Football Focus’ 2020 Midseason All-Pro Team. Predictably, the Pittsburgh Steelers went unrepresented on the offensive side of the ball, but the organization did place two defenders on the team.
Most notably, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt got the nod as first-team edge rusher (along with Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack). Watt came out ahead of second-teamer Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, with Watt having the best PFF pass rushing grade of any rusher.
“[Watt] was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate a season ago and is coming back for another run at that award in 2020,” asserts Monson.
Meanwhile, Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is paired with Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams as the first-team All-Pros at their respective positions, with Heyward coming out ahead of second-teamer Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Monson notes that Heyward has been “stepping up his game in an impressive way late in his career,” which is a good thing from his employer’s perspective as the Steelers recently signed him to a new five-year deal that keeps him in Pittsburgh through 2024.
The Steelers also have a third player on PFF’s list, with wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III earning second-team honors as return specialist behind Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Other Representatives from the AFC North
In addition to Myles Garrett being named second-team edge rusher, the Baltimore Ravens are represented by Marlon Humphrey (second-team cornerback) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (in PFF’s ‘flex’ category). Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker is also a second-teamer, whereas the lone representative from the Cincinnati Bengals is safety Jessie Bates III, who has been named a first-teamer.
“Bates already has a pair of interceptions as well as eight pass breakups, leading all safeties,” notes Monson. “It doesn’t capture the full effect of his coverage (more often helping out other coverages than being in primary coverage himself), but throws targeted at Bates are generating a mere 22.1 passer rating so far this year.”
Hall of Fame News
In other news, two former Steelers players are among 25 finalists for the Black College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021. They are: are running back Richard Huntley, who played at Winston-Salem State University (1992-1995), and offensive lineman Tyrone McGriff, out of Florida A&M University (1976-1979).
The Class of 2021 will be announced on November 19th and honored during the Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on February 20, 2021 in Atlanta.
For his part, former Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats has been elected to the James Madison University Athletic Hall of Fame as a part of its Class of 2020.
Moats played at JMU beginning in 2006 and in 2009 he won the Buck Buchanan award as the best defensive player in the country as a senior, just the second JMU player to ever earn the award.
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