Mike Wallace and the Top 10 Pittsburgh Steelers of the Future
The Steelers are a team many have written off as of late, but the Pittsburgh Steelers community has remained calm for the most part through the offseason.
In many people's opinion, the Steelers are actually a team that is much less aged than people make them seem. They remain a team looking up and have returned the same players from the 2008 season.
This list was made to represent the future of the Steelers and their young players. Please, enjoy.
Honorable Mention: Maurkice Pouncey
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You see how grateful Tim Tebow is!
Anyway, I didn't want to put Pouncey on my list since I planned on only doing skill positions (both offense and defense), and lineman is not one of them. I do think that if I incorporated him on the list, he could be top four for sure though.
10. Antonio Brown
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Antonio Brown is one of my personal favorite receivers from the 2010 draft class.
He is basically what Antwaan Randle El used to be. He can catch well, return kicks and punts very well, run the ball, and he even had a few pass attempts. I am very confident he can be among the great future the Steelers have at wide receiver.
In each of the past three seasons in college, he had more than 90 catches, having 98 as a true freshman and 110 last season before entering the draft.
He is an excellent slot receiver along with one of the other players on this list.
He obviously has solid hands, catching 301 passes through his college career. I am just very impressed with how he has played.
He also had 42 rushes last year for 270 yards and three touchdowns. I really look forward to how the Steelers plan to utilize his great abilities.
He also looked fantastic in the preseason and will most likely be returning kicks and punts along with playing wideout this season.
9. Keenan Lewis (Would Have Been Joe Burnett)
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I am going to come out and say it. I feel that Joe Burnett is a better cornerback and will be better. Keenan Lewis has the perfect build for the position, but I feel Burnett had it better.
Burnett, despite being 5'9", rather short for the position, was often in position to make the big play and was great in college. He had excellent hands and was also good with the ball in his hands, as he was an All-American punt returner.
5'9" may be tiny for most people, but Antoine Winfield, Terrence McGee, Wes Welker, Steve Smith, and DeAngelo Williams have had great (or at least good in McGee's case) careers.
Also, you can't forget Brian Leonhard is a very good SS for the Jets despite being 5'8". It's about how you play, not how much shorter you are than those you cover.
Of course, I understand the handicap of being shorter for the NFL. Vincent Jackson is 6'5" and whatnot. It's tough to make up for an eight-inch height difference.
Despite my displeasure for the Steelers' decision, I still feel that Lewis can be very good. If you watch some of his highlights for Oregon State, you can see he has a nose for the ball and is very good in both man and zone coverage. He has top-shelf speed and has very good hops.
I think he can make a nice career for himself if he continues to learn from Ike Taylor how to cover better in man.
8. Thaddeus Gibson
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Thaddeus had a very successful and productive career with Ohio State.
He is a very gifted athlete, being strong enough to play 4-3 DE yet fast enough for coverage in a 3-4 scheme. He is an excellent talent, much like another man on the list.
Gibson has a large frame and an explosive first step—a fast-twitch athlete who has the speed to be a sideline-to-sideline player and the closing burst to get around the edge.
If he worked out and bulked up some, he would be perfect for the Steelers.
He has the speed to cover tight ends and running backs in man coverage, which is something needed to be a successful linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.
In his career with Ohio State, he had 82 tackles, three forced fumbles, an interception, and 10 sacks.
7. Jason Worilds
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Much like Thaddeus Gibson, he was productive in his career, although Jason was more so.
He is a tough, competitive athlete that is best attacking the line of scrimmage.
Really a one-sided player with mediocre coverage skills, he is an excellent pass rusher.
Not that it's a problem, but if he wants to be James Harrison's successor, he will have to pick up on his coverage a bit and beat out Gibson.
It really was a toss-up between the two, but since Worilds is better at the pass rush, that was the tiebreaker. Durability is a concern, however, considering he had a few shoulder surgeries.
In his career with Virginia Tech, Jason Worilds had 125 tackles and 14 sacks.
6. Emmanuel Sanders
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Emmanuel Sanders is my favorite receiver at the moment. Yes, I love him more than Hines Ward right now and feel he can give Mike Wallace a run for his money at the position in a few years.
Much the same as with Sanders, though, he is undersized. Both are under six feet and weigh 186 pounds. Not exactly overpowering those 260-pound linebackers in coverage.
Despite those things, he is certainly not timid when it comes to going over the middle and will compete for the ball.
Yet due to his size, he tends to lose those battles at times.
He is also a break from Santonio Holmes, who would take plays off. Sanders is a very hungry player and never gives up, which once again comes back to his excellent slot play.
Yet again, he and Brown are very much like Wes Welker in that they are great in the slot, have fantastic hands, and are extremely quick.
There is a difference in that they can light up a difference with their lateral speed and not just with their lightning quickness.
The two receivers the Steelers picked up in the draft give me every reason to believe they should trade Randle El and possibly Arnaz Battle as well. They have excellent potential and have played great through the preseason.
Sanders through his four-year career with the Southern Methodist Mustangs improved his yardage every season.
He also caught 98 passes last season for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns. His career totals of 285 receptions, 3,791 yards, and 34 touchdowns make me EXTREMELY confident for his future.
He also had 40 punt returns for 275 yards and one touchdown. I think the terrible average is more due to the fact that teams got to his location quickly since he had no blockers. He also had 20 fair catches, which shows they got VERY close often.
5. Crezdon Butler
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I had not known this, but Crezdon Butler was so amazing with Clemson that he was thrown to a mere 14 times his entire senior season. The previous seasons brought him two three-interception seasons and one where he had four.
I also forgot to mention that he had eight passes defended along with an interception in those 14 times he was thrown to.
He is a rookie coming into the season, but I have a lot of faith in his skill set. He has a very good build, and many expect him to succeed with the Steelers. The fact that it is the Steelers who drafted him does not hurt much.
He is extremely fast and is quite good in coverage.
NFL.com's prospect board said that he is not good in run support and doesn't like to tackle. I beg to differ, as he had 166 total tackles in his career and 61 in his sophomore season.
That seems to me like someone who likes to hit. However, having Ike Taylor (yet another mention) and Keenan Lewis to help him be more physical will be very helpful.
He had 11 career interceptions, one forced fumble, and one sack in his career with the Clemson Tigers.
4. Stevenson Sylvester
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Sylvester was a highly productive player for the Utah defense over the past three seasons. He has a good frame to gain additional bulk, and this should help his overall game at the next level.
He has shown he has an excellent motor and high football IQ as well.
He also played extremely well in the preseason and was seemingly around the ball on every single play. Ahmad Rashad can testify.
He excels in dropping back for pass defense and is also very good at chasing the ball carrier down.
Again, though, he could use some bulk. He also needs to work on his blitzing since the Steelers are very aggressive on defense.
Just look at Lawrence Timmons. He had seven sacks last year while missing a few games, and he played inside linebacker.
Sylvester also has 10-inch hands, meaning he basically has feet for palms. The guy has tennis rackets glued to his elbows, I think.
NFL.com's prospect board also says about him that he was one of the very best pass defense linebackers. That is definitely something the Steelers were lacking last year.
In his career with the Utah Utes (AKA most well-thought out name ever), he had 250 tackles, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and eight sacks, all in the last three seasons.
It is notable, as well, that both of his interceptions were returned for great touchdowns, showing he is good with the ball in his hands.
I may also just be partial to him since we are both from Las Vegas, though I doubt it.
3. Rashard Mendenhall
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He was one of the most recruited players coming out of high school, coming out of college, and now coming into your fantasy team.
In high school, as a junior, he rushed for 1,832 yards and 19 touchdowns...at 12 yards per carry. Basically, I think he was playing against a bunch of seven-year-olds without limbs. Those are excellent numbers.
In college, he was almost as successful, putting up these numbers:
Those are extremely impressive for college, especially that final season—well over 100 yards per game on a team that is less than spectacular.
He is the first athlete to sign a sponsorship deal with Champion Sportswear as well.
In the NFL, he had a rough rookie season, making the mistake of running directly into a hibernating Ray Lewis. His shoulder was fractured, and he missed the rest of the season.
But the following year, he was benched for being late to practice a few times, if I remember correctly.
That led him to the motivation of having 165 yards and two touchdowns for 29 attempts at 5.7 yards per carry.
He ended the year with 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns at 4.6 yards per carry.
You can definitely expect him to be the future for the Steelers and a perennial top 10 back in the NFL.
2. Lawrence Timmons
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Now, I guarantee you that only a few of you guys would have expected this choice. Some of you probably wrote it off as soon as you got to Mendenhall.
But Timmons has shown his amazing potential and skill. Few would have figured he would turn out to be better than Ernie Sims, his old teammate from Florida State.
He is the best blitzing ILB in the AFC without a doubt. He sheds blockers with ease and would probably be best suited at OLB.
In college (one season starting), he had 125 tackles, one interception plus touchdown, and eight sacks.
The problem is that the Steelers are so stacked at those positions. I personally feel this is his best spot.
In two starting NFL seasons, he has had 156 tackles (110 solo), 12 sacks, five forced fumbles (four last year), seven passes defended, and one interception.
He has gotten better every year, and I expect further growth from him this year, especially since he may take over the No. 1 ILB spot next season.
He hits hard in run support and is very good in coverage. He can keep up with tight ends easily and is rarely outrun by running backs.
His potential is sky-high, and I expect him to keep reaching it this year.
1. Mike Wallace
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Yes, Mike Wallace. He was your pick from the start, I would imagine.
Mike Wallace is an excellent receiver.
Many have figured him as only a deep threat, but I have seen him play. He is very good in traffic and has made many big, important catches in spectacular fashion. He can do everything you need him to and then some.
He can return kicks, run the ball, and catch as well as Santonio Holmes did.
Despite the fact that he has never had more than 40 catches in a season through college and professional football, I feel he will break into the 65-75 range this season.
His route running was his only knock coming out of college, and everyone has seen that drastically improve.
He has a very rare kind of speed, as shown by the fact he has averaged more than 19 yards per reception the last three season, both professional and collegiate.
He is also good at moving the chains. Almost three-quarters of his receptions were for a first down, with 28 out of a total of 39.
In college, he had a total of 101 receptions for 1,910 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wallace also returned two kicks for touchdowns.
In the NFL, he has six touchdowns on 39 receptions for 756 yards. He also had a game-winning catch against the Packers reminiscent of Holmes' Super Bowl winner.
Thank you for reading my articles, everybody! I appreciate the read. Feel free to comment and "like"!