Top 10 Pittsburgh Steelers Players of All Time

Updated on September 25, 2019
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert in 1975
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert in 1975 | Source

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one the most legendary teams in the National Football League, with a legacy that dates back to 1933. The team struggled for the better part of four decades until the arrival of head coach Chuck Noll in 1969 ushered in the championship dynasty of the 1970s.

The Steelers have been a perennial playoff contender ever since and have racked up eight Super Bowl appearances and six Lombardi Trophies over the years. Today there are 24 Steelers enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a few more waiting in the wings.

In this article, you’ll read about the 10 greatest Steelers ever to wear the black and gold. These are the athletes who made the franchise what it is today. But how do we choose the 10 all-time best from an organization with such a long list of great players?

Selection Criteria:

For the purposes of this top 10 list I considered the universal achievements common to all players and weighted them based on significance. I limited my contenders to Steelers who are already in the Hall of Fame. That means some of the greats from the latest Super Bowls are not yet eligible for my list, but more on them later.

To rank the 10 best Steelers I considered:

  • Number of years as a Steeler
  • Contributions to a Steelers Super Bowl championship
  • Super Bowl MVP awards
  • Pro Bowls
  • First-team NFL Associated Press (AP) All-Pro Team selections
  • Offensive or Defensive AP Player of the Year awards
  • NFL Most Valuable Player awards
  • Bert Bell Awards (NFL Player of the Year)

Of course it should go without saying that I only considered player accomplishments while part of the Steelers organization.

Who Are the Best Steelers Players in History?

These criteria should give us a list of the best Steelers based on their achievements during their playing career, their dominance compared to their contemporaries, their contributions to the team, and their impact on the league.

I was surprised at the results, but equally surprised by who did not make the list.

10. Ernie Stautner

Defensive lineman Ernie Stautner was a bright spot in an otherwise dark pre-Noll Steelers past. From 1950 to 1963, he terrorized Pittsburgh's opponents. Undersized even for his era at 6'1 and 230 pounds, he made up for it with tenacity and toughness, and only missed six games during his entire career.

Accolades

  • 9x Pro Bowl
  • 1x All-Pro
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1969

Stautner possibly would have ranked higher on this list had the NFL done a better job of tracking defensive players during his time in the league. As it stands, he racked up 2 interceptions, 23 fumble recoveries, and 3 safeties in 173 games as a pro. Stautner made nine Pro Bowls and first-team Associated Press All-Pro once, all during a career where his Steelers never made the playoffs.

While the Steelers do not make a habit of handing out the jersey numbers of their legendary players of the past, for a long while Stautner’s No. 70 was the only number officially retired by the team. Joe Greene joined him in that honor in 2014 when the Steelers retired his No. 75.

Stautner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 14

Standout Stats

  • 173 Games as a Steeler
  • 2 Interceptions
  • 23 Fumble Recoveries
  • 3 Safeties

Where Is He Now?

After his playing career ended, Stautner went into coaching. Among other achievements, he eventually served as the defensive coordinator behind the Dallas Cowboys Doomsday Defense of the ‘70s, and battled his Steelers in two Super Bowls. Ernie Stautner passed away in 2006 at the age of 80.

9. Mel Blount

As most football fans know, defensive backs in the NFL are not allowed to intentionally contact receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. We can thank former Steelers cornerback Mel Blount for that rule.

Accolades

  • 5x Pro Bowl
  • 2x All-Pro
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • 1x Defensive Player of the Year
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1989

From 1970 to 1983, Blount harassed, abused, and intimidated opposing receivers into submission, making him a perfect fit for the hyper-aggressive Steelers defense of the 1970s. In 1978, the NFL disallowed contact with receivers downfield, at least in part due to Blount’s rough playing style.

During his 200 games as a Steeler, he tallied 57 interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl five times, All-Pro twice, and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1975. And, of course, Blount was a key ingredient in the Steelers' four Super Bowl wins of the ‘70s.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 14

Standout Stats

  • 200 Games as a Steeler
  • 57 Interceptions for 736 yards and 2 TDs
  • 13 Fumble Recoveries, 2 TDs

Where Is He Now?

After football, Blount served as Director of Player Relations for the NFL from 1983 to 1990, and went on to found youth homes for victims of child abuse.

8. Terry Bradshaw

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw helmed the Steelers from 1970 to 1983. He was tough as nails, unafraid of contact, and a true field general. He was the perfect quarterback for a team built on Steel City attitude.

Accolades

  • 3x Pro Bowl
  • 1x All-Pro
  • 1x NFL MVP
  • 1x Bert Bell Award (NFL Player of the Year)
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • 2x Super Bowl MVP
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1989

Perhaps more than any other quarterback in NFL history, Bradshaw requires us to ask ourselves what truly constitutes greatness at the position. Some may feel he deserves to be higher on this list, while others might think the eighth spot is generous.

In his favor, he brought four Super Bowl championships to Pittsburgh, and won Most Valuable Player in two of them. He was elected to three Pro Bowls, and one All-Pro team. He was awarded the NFL Most Valuable Player Award for his performance during the 1978 seasons, as well as the Bert Bell Award for NFL Player of the Year.

However, at least during the first half of his career, the Steelers offense was largely predicated on a dominant running game to go with their Steel Curtain Defense. Bradshaw's performances usually weren’t spectacular, and compared to other quarterbacks of his day his numbers were not impressive. He even lost his starting job to Joe Gilliam going into the 1974 season.

Today, Terry Bradshaw is among the most beloved of former Steelers. All told, he completed 2,025 of 3,901 passes (51.9%) for 27,989 yards, 212 touchdowns, and 210 interceptions. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Should Bradshaw have been higher or lower on this list, or is the eight spot about right? Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 13

Standout Stats

  • 168 Games as a Steeler
  • 27,989 Passing Yards
  • 212 Passing TDs
  • 2,257 Rushing Yards
  • 32 Rushing TDs

Where Is He Now?

After football, Bradshaw went on to a career in broadcasting, and today he is a pro-football analyst and co-host of Fox NFL Sunday.

7. Franco Harris

When people talk about “Steelers football,” they mean intimidating defense and the ability to control the ball with the running game. It’s a tough, hard-nosed style of play that grinds opponents down and makes them wish they were someplace else by the time the fourth quarter comes around. This has been part of Steelers lore since the ‘50s, but with running back Franco Harris and the powerful Steelers offensive line of the ‘70s it finally led to championships.

Accolades

  • 9x Pro Bowl
  • 1x All-Pro
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • 1x Super Bowl MVP
  • 1972 Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1990

Harris was a big back at 6'2 and 230 pounds. He possessed the power to bowl over defenders, but also a smooth, gliding gait, and surprising speed. From 1972 to 1983, he was the foundation of a Steelers rushing attack that routinely ranked among the best in the NFL.

Harris typically ran out of a pro set, meaning two split backs in the backfield. He shared the spotlight with running mates such as John “Frenchy” Fuqua, Rocky Bleier, and Sydney Thornton throughout his career, and opposing defenses always had another back to worry about. In fact, Bleier and Harris each ran for over 1,000 yards during the 1976 season.

Harris amassed a total of 12,120 rushing yards and 91 touchdowns on 2,949 carries during his 173-game NFL career, most of it with the Steelers. At the time he retired, he ranked third all-time among NFL rushers. He earned four Super Bowl rings along with one Super Bowl MVP, made All-Pro once, and was voted to nine straight Pro Bowls.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 12

Standout Stats

  • 165 Games as a Steeler
  • 11,950 Rushing Yards*
  • 4.1 YPC*
  • 91 Rushing TDs*

* Stats with Steelers. Harris finished his career with Seattle in 1984.

Where Is He Now?

Harris went on to become a successful businessman and product spokesman when his playing days were done.

6. Dermontti Dawson

While the casual football fan may not know the name Dermontti Dawson, devoted Steelers fans certainly do. He was a member of the team from 1988 to 2000, and from 1992 to 1998 he was widely considered the best center in the NFL.

Accolades

  • 7x Pro Bowl
  • 6x All-Pro
  • Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Dawson was elected to the Pro Bowl seven times, and made first-team All-Pro an amazing six seasons straight. Offensive linemen don’t often get the credit they deserve, but Dermontti Dawson has well earned the sixth spot on the list of greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all time.

He was the leader of a Steelers offensive line that allowed running back Barry Foster to rush for 1,690 yards in 1992, a team record that still stands today. In 1997, another of Dawson’s All-Pro seasons, Steelers back Jerome Bettis ran for 1,665 yards.

More importantly, he was part of the Bill Cowher-era rebirth of the franchise. Dawson and the Steelers made it to the team’s fifth Super Bowl following the 1995 season, only to lose to the Dallas Cowboys.

Dawson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 13

Standout Stats

  • 184 Games as a Steeler

Where Is He Now?

After football, Dawson went on to a career in business.

5. Rod Woodson

Cornerback Rod Woodson arrived in 1987, in the midst of a four-year playoff drought. He was a track star who possessed incredible speed, and had clocked a 4.33-second 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine the previous spring. He quickly established himself not only as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but also one of the best return men.

Accolades*

  • 7x Pro Bowl
  • 5x All-Pro
  • 1x Defensive Player of the Year
  • Hall of Fame Class of 2009

During his 10-year career in Pittsburgh, Woodson made seven Pro Bowls, and was voted first-team All-Pro five times. He intercepted 38 passes, five of which he returned for touchdowns. In 1993 he was named AP Defensive Player of the Year.

As a kick returner, Woodson was a game changer, running back two kicks and two punts for scores during his time with the Steelers.

Woodson was a superstar at a time when the Steelers desperately needed one. The heroes of the Super Bowl years of the ‘70s had all but vanished by time he arrived, and the Steelers were struggling. He played a key part in the resurgence of the team in the early ‘90s, and, while he was injured during the run-up to the 1995 Super Bowl, he still managed to make an appearance in the game.

After leaving the Steelers in 1996, Woodson went on to play for San Francisco, Baltimore, and Oakland before retiring at the age of 38. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 10

Standout Stats*

  • 134 Games as a Steeler
  • 38 Interceptions for 779 Yards and 5 TDs
  • 22 Fumbles Recovered for 1 TD
  • 257 Punt Returns for 2,362 Yards and 2 TDs
  • 220 Kick Returns for 4,894 Yards and 2 TDs

Where Is He Now?

Woodson has worked as a football analyst and has served as the Oakland Raiders' defensive backs coach in his time since retirement.

* All accomplishments as a member of the Steelers. Woodson played for three other teams after leaving Pittsburgh.

4. Jack Ham

Many great outside linebackers have put on a Steelers uniform over the years, and it can be tough to rank them from second place and on. But it is pretty clear who is at the top of the list, and that’s Jack Ham. In fact, Ham was one of the best outside linebackers the NFL has ever seen.

Accolades

  • 8x Pro Bowl
  • 6x All-Pro
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1988

Ham arrived in Pittsburgh in 1971, and soon took his position as a perennial starter in what would become one of the most legendary defenses in NFL history. The Steelers played a 4-3 defense back then, and outside linebackers needed to be tough, versatile, and athletic.

Ham was up to the task, and could rush the quarterback when called upon, cover backs out of the backfield, and shut down running plays around the outside. He intercepted 32 passes during his career, an impressive number for a linebacker.

During his 12 seasons with the Steelers, he made a stunning eight straight Pro Bowls and six straight All-Pro teams. And, of course, he played a key role in four Super Bowl championships.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the class of 1988.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 12

Standout Stats

  • 162 Games as a Steeler
  • 32 Interceptions for 218 yards and 1 TD
  • 21 Fumble Recoveries for 1 TD
  • 3 Sacks*

* The NFL did not begin tracking sacks until 1982, Ham's final season.

Where Is He Now?

After football, Ham went on to a career in radio and is currently an announcer on the Penn State Radio Network.

3. Mike Webster

In the 1970s the Steelers were known for their mean, tenacious, stingy defense. However, they had bullies on both sides of the ball, and the toughest offensive line in the business. Mike Webster was the leader of that offensive line, and one of the best centers ever to play the game.

Accolades

  • 9x Pro Bowl
  • 5x All Pro
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1997

Drafted in 1974, Webster served as backup to longtime Steelers center Ray Mansfield before taking over the starting job in 1976. From 1978 to 1987 he made nine Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. He was a member of four Steelers Super Bowl champion teams.

He earned the nickname "Iron Mike" for his ability to play through pain without missing a game, and at one time had a streak of 150 consecutive starts.

Webster spent 15 years of his 17-year NFL career as a Steeler. When he left the team after the 1988 season he was the last remaining player from the Super Bowl dynasty of the ‘70s.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 15

Standout Stats

  • 220 Games as a Steeler

Where Is He Now?

Webster experienced a string of physical and psychological issues after football, and sadly passed away in 2002 at the age of 50.

2. Jack Lambert

As an undersized 204-pound rookie in 1974, Jack Lambert was slated to serve as a backup outside linebacker, until middle linebacker Henry Davis went down with an injury. Lambert stepped into the starting middle linebacker role, where he stayed until 1984.

Accolades

  • 9x Pro Bowl
  • 6x All-Pro
  • 1974 Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 1x Defensive Player of the Year
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1990

Lambert earned Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1974. In the years that followed, he made nine Pro Bowls, six All-Pro teams, and played a key role in four Super Bowl victories. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1976.

If ever there was a player who personified the attitude of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, it was Jack Lambert. He made up for his lack of size with speed, tenacity, and just plain meanness. Lambert seemed in a perpetual bad mood while on the field, which he took out on his opponents in horribly violent ways. He was nicknamed Count Dracula in Cleats, and he once declared that all quarterbacks should wear dresses.

Lambert’s signature moment occurred in Super Bowl X, when trash-talking Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris mockingly consoled Steelers kicker Roy Gerela with a pat on the helmet after he had missed a field goal. Lambert grabbed Harris and slammed him to the turf, arguably shifting the momentum in a game the Steelers had been losing at that point.

It’s tough to imagine the Steelers of the ‘70s without Jack Lambert. He is regarded as one of the best middle linebackers in NFL history, and well deserves a spot near the top of any list of the greatest Steelers of all time.

Lambert was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 11

Standout Stats

  • 146 Games as a Steeler
  • 28 Interceptions for 243 Yards
  • 17 Fumble Recoveries
  • 8 Sacks*

* The NFL did not begin tracking sacks until 1982

Where Is He Now?

Following football, Lambert retired to a reclusive life where he served as a deputy wildlife officer and coached youth sports.

1. Joe Greene

When it came time for new Steelers coach Chuck Noll to make his first draft pick in 1969, he selected a defensive tackle from North Texas State named Joe Greene. “Mean” Joe Greene went on to play for 13 seasons in Pittsburgh, and helped bring four championships to the city.

Accolades

  • 10x Pro Bowl
  • 4x All-Pro
  • 2x Defensive Player of the Year
  • 4x Super Bowl Champion
  • 1969 Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • Hall of Fame Class of 1987

The Steelers were abysmal when Greene and Noll arrived, and had been for a long while. They finished 1-13 in 1969, though Greene took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. By 1972 the Steelers had improved to 11-3, their first winning season since 1963.

In 1974, the key pieces of the Steel Curtain defense were in place, with Greene and Ernie Holmes at defensive tackles, and Dwight White and L.C. Greenwood at defensive ends. Lambert had taken his post at middle linebacker, with Jack Ham and veteran Andy Russell at the outside linebackers.

The Steelers dominated the ‘70s, and it all started with Joe Greene. He was one of the greatest defensive tackles of all time, he hated to lose, and he set the standard for the best defense of an era. Greene made an amazing 10 Pro Bowls during his career, and four All-Pro teams. He earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year in both 1972 and 1974.

The Steelers officially retired Greene’s No. 75 jersey in 2014, making him only the second Steeler ever to receive that honor. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Number of Seasons With the Steelers

  • 13

Standout Stats

  • 181 Games as a Steeler
  • 1 Interception for 26 Yards
  • 1 Fumble Recovery

Where Is He Now?

After football, Joe Greene became an assistant coach with the Steelers and other teams for 16 years, and later served as Special Assistant to Player Personnel for the Steelers.

Mean Joe Greene in 1975
Mean Joe Greene in 1975 | Source

Who Is the Greatest Pittsburgh Steeler of All Time?

The greatest Steeler of all time is Joe Greene, the man who started it all. He was the first of the great Steelers of the '70s and one of the best ever at his position. His fierce playing style and drive to win set the tone for a decade of excellence, and turned the fortunes of a franchise.You could make a strong case for several of the players mentioned above as the greatest Steeler in history, but before Bradshaw, Lambert, Harris, Blount, or any of the other superstars of the first Super Bowl dynasty, there was Mean Joe Greene.

Honorable Mentions

Some of my favorite Hall of Fame Steelers of all time missed the cut entirely! Here is the list of honorable mentions:

Lynn Swann

Wide receiver Lynn Swann’s ability to stretch the field opened up big plays for the Steelers, and made it impossible for defenses to fully commit to stopping the run. He’s a four-time Super Bowl winner and one-time Super Bowl MVP who made three Pro Bowl teams and was selected as an All-Pro wideout once. Over nine seasons, he hauled in 336 passes for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns.

John Stallworth

Stallworth was Swann’s counterpart on the other side of the field, and together they formed one of the most dangerous receiving duos of the 1970s NFL. Stallworth caught 537 passes for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns during a 14-year career where he earned four Super Bowl rings, three Pro Bowl selections, and one All-Pro selection.

Jerome Bettis

Jerome Bettis was a bruising, 250-pound running back who smashed his way for 10,571 yards and 78 touchdowns as a Steeler, putting him second in team history behind Franco Harris in both rushing categories. “The Bus”, as he came to be known, earned a Super Bowl ring in 2005, and tallied six Pro Bowl appearances and two All-Pro nominations during his career.

Jerome Bettis in a 2005 preseason game
Jerome Bettis in a 2005 preseason game | Source

Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famers

Name
Inducted
Position
Years With Team
Bert Bell
1963
Co-owner
1940-1945
John McNally
1963
Halfback/Coach
1934; 1937-1939
Arthur J, Rooney, Sr.
1964
Founder, President, Chairman
1933-1988
Bill Dudley
1966
Halfback
1942, 1945-1946
Walt Kiesling
1966
Guard/Tackle/Coach
1937-1944; 1949-1961
Bobby Layne
1967
Quarterback, Kicker
1958-1962
Ernie Stautner
1969
Defensive Tackle
1950-1963
Joe Greene
1987
Defensive Tackle
1969-1981
John Henry Johnson
1987
Running Back
1960-1965
Jack Ham
1988
Linebacker
1971-1982
Mel Blount
1989
Cornerback
1970-1983
Terry Bradshaw
1989
Quarterback
1970-1983
Franco Harris
1990
Running Back
1972-1983
Jack Lambert
1990
Linebacker
1974-1984
Chuck Noll
1993
Head Coach
1969-1991
Mike Webster
1997
Center
1974-1988
Daniel M. Rooney
2000
President, Chairman
1955-2017
Lynn Swann
2001
Wide Receiver
1974-1982
John Stallworth
2002
Wide Receiver
1974-1987
Rod Woodson
2009
Cornerback
1987-1996
Jack Butler
2012
Cornerback
1951-1959
Dermontti Dawson
2012
Center
1988-2000
Kevin Greene
2016
Linebacker
1993-1995
Jerome Bettis
2017
Running Back
1996-2005
Reference: Steelers.com

Future Steelers Hall of Famers

Many of the greats from the mid-2000s will surely find their way onto this 10 best Steelers list in good time. Here are a few that are a solid bet to end up in the Hall of Fame:

Troy Polamalu

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was one of the most dominant defensive players of his generation. He becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2020, and likely will not have to wait any longer than that. During his 12-year career with the team, he intercepted 32 passes, recovered 14 fumbles, and racked up 12 sacks. He earned eight Pro Bowl bids, four All-Pro nominations, and won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

Alan Faneca

Offensive guard Alan Faneca made nine Pro Bowls, and a whopping six All-Pro teams during his decade-long tenure with the Steelers, and was a member of one Super Bowl-winning team. He somehow missed the Hall of Fame cut in 2019, but it is only a matter of time.

Hines Ward

With 1,000 catches to his name, Hines Ward is the leading receiver in Steelers history. He was also a punishing blocker, a rare attribute in a wideout. He earned two Super Bowl rings, and one Super Bowl MVP. Over a 14-year career, he was voted to four Pro Bowls.

James Harrison

Outside linebacker James Harrison was a nightmare for offensive tackles. In 14 years with the Steelers, he piled up 80.5 sacks, and was a key part of two Super Bowl teams. His 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown was one of the most dramatic plays in Super Bowl history. Harrison made five Pro Bowls, two All-Pro teams, and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

Ben Roethlisberger

“Big Ben” still has a little ways to go before retirement, but with two Super Bowl rings, six Pro Bowls, and over 56,000 passing yards to date it is a good bet he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when the time comes.

Antonio Brown

Despite his dramatic departure from Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown put up some of the best numbers of any Steeler receiver that came before him. In his nine seasons with the team, he hauled in 837 passes for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns. He made seven Pro Bowls, and four All-Pro teams.

Big Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben Roethlisberger | Source

Best Steelers Players of 2019

Here is a look at some of the players the Steelers are counting on to get them to the Super Bowl in 2019:

Mason Rudolph

With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph will get the chance to step up and show what he can do in the starting role. He threw for 13,267 yards and 90 touchdowns during his college career at Oklahoma State and a little bit of that magic will be welcome in Pittsburgh.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

With the departure of Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster finds himself in the number-one receiver role for the first time in his career. He is more than capable of getting the job done. However, until a legitimate number-two emerges, he may find himself draped in double coverage every Sunday.

James Conner

Conner is a gutsy back made in the mold of Steelers gone by. In 2018, he did an admirable job of filling in for an obstinate and absent Le'veon Bell, but this year he needs to put on his big-boy cleats and carry the Steelers' running game on his shoulders.

Vance McDonald

McDonald is a speedy tight end, capable of stretching the field as well as outmuscling defenders. He has the potential to be a superstar, but in two seasons with the team thus far he has been only decent. A breakout year would go a long way toward freeing up Smith-Schuster and getting the Steelers to the Super Bowl.

Cameron Heyward

Defensive end Cameron Heyward has become an elite NFL player. He will likely make the Pro Bowl again in 2019, but his leadership and toughness will be necessary to motivate a young Steelers defensive unit.

T.J. Watt

Linebacker T.J. Watt is the kind of pass rusher that keeps offensive coordinators up at night. He tallied 13 sacks in 2018, and should have a similar performance in 2019. If Bud Dupree, his counterpart on the other side, can finally get things started, it would be a bonus.

Devin Bush

Much is expected of rookie linebacker Devin Bush. His speed should help with pass coverage, but if he can become a run stopper alongside fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams, we might be looking at one of the future Steeler greats.

Joe Haden

Veteran cornerback Joe Haden has the arduous task of serving as senior man in a young and mistake-prone secondary. The addition of Steven Nelson on the other side may help, but Haden's leadership will be needed to keep the young bucks in line.

Steelers Nation

Pittsburgh is a tough, hard-working town, and every one of the top 10 Steelers on this list represents the blue-collar ethic of the city. Steelers Nation expects hard-nosed football, and that is part of what made each of these players so great.

But the NFL is changing, and the passing game is taking over more and more. With more 5-wideout sets and dime defenses, the blood-and-guts style of the past may be gone forever. If you like inflated passing statistics, it is an exciting time to be a football fan, but for those who miss the days of a tight end, a fullback, and a downhill running game it is a little sad.

Perhaps things will come full circle one day. Until then, the modern Steelers might do well to look to the past and glean what they can from the best Steelers players of all time.

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