The Pittsburgh Steelers Top 100: 89-80

In the spirit of the offseason, Alex Kozora and I are undertaking the daunting task of ranking the top 100 Pittsburgh Steelers players in the history of the franchise. And we mean the complete history. 1933 to today, they’re all on the table. Alex and I first came up with our own lists and then worked together to come up with one “master” group. So you’ll see that one reflected below, with a quick side note of where each player was at in our personal rankings. That way, you all have something to be outraged over.

If you missed our rankings of players ranked 100-90, you can see those here.

89. Chad Scott/CB – (1997-2004) – Originally drafted by the Steelers in the first-round of the 1997 NFL Draft out Maryland, Scott would go on to play in 91 games for the Steelers over the span of 7 seasons. His 19 career interceptions while in Pittsburgh currently has him ranked 15th overall on the franchise’s all-time list. He returned 4 of those picks for touchdowns and only three other Steelers players have that many or more. He was also credited with 51 passes defensed during his career Pittsburgh which currently is sixth-best in franchise history.

Dave’s Rank: 94th
Alex’s Rank: N/R

88. Craig Wolfley/G/T – (1980-1989) – After being drafted by the Steelers in the fifth-round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Syracuse, Wolfley played in 129 games with the Steelers of which he started 102 of them. While he never received league honors for his play, Wolfley was a mainstay on the left side of the Steelers offensive line for nearly a decade.

Dave’s Rank: 83rd
Alex’s Rank: N/R

87. Mark Bruener/TE – (1995-2003) – Originally drafted by the Steelers in the first-round of the 1995 NFL Draft out Washington, Bruener played in 126 games, making 108 starts while in Pittsburgh. His 137 receptions and 16 receiving touchdowns each rank fifth all-time in team history for a tight end. Bruener also established himself as one of the league’s better blocking tight ends while in Pittsburgh during a time when that was the primary role for the position. In his nine seasons with the Steelers, the team averaged 2,142 rushing yards per year.

Dave’s Rank: N/R
Alex’s Rank: 83rd

86. Pat Brady/P – (1952-1954) – Originally drafted by the New York Giants in 13th round of the 1952 NFL Draft, Brady played for the Steelers during the 1952, 1953, and 1954 seasons. He was second in the league in punting in 1952 and led the league in 1953 and 1954. He averaged 44.5 yards for those three years. A torn Achilles tendon during the 1955 pre-season ended Brady’s career and he was ultimately named to the Steelers’ 50th Anniversary Team in 1982 and to its 75th anniversary “Legends Team” in 2007.

Dave’s Rank: N/R
Alex’s Rank: 81st

85. Yancey Thigpen/WR – (1992-1997) – Originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth-round of the 1991 NFL Draft, Thigpen joined the Steelers in 1992 and played sparingly until becoming a starter in 1994. In 1995, Thigpen caught 85 passes for 1,307 yards and five touchdowns and helped lead the Steelers to Super Bowl XXX, where he recorded three catches for 19 yards and a touchdown in the 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl that season. Thigpen’s 222 career catches while in Pittsburgh currently has him ranked 15th overall on the franchise’s all-time leader list. He went on to spend his final three years in the league with the Tennessee Titans and caught another 91 passes for 1,430 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Dave’s Rank: 93rd
Alex’s Rank: 78th

84. Cameron Heyward/DE – (2011-) – Drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Heyward has already registered 22 career sacks which ranks him 19th overall on the franchise’s all-time list. Additionally, he has already registered 197 total tackles and 14 defensed passes during his career and is currently one of the unquestioned leaders of the team. He is under contract with the Steelers through the 2020 season and thus has a chance to become one of the franchise’s all-time great defensive linemen.

Dave’s Rank: N/R
Alex’s Rank 77th

83. Maurkice Pouncey/C – (2010-) – Drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Florida, Pouncey has already established himself as one of the league’s top centers. While injuries have forced him to miss 34 regular season games during his first six years in the league. Pouncey has already been elected to the Pro Bowl three times and named First-team All-Pro twice.

Dave’s Rank: 87th
Alex’s Rank: 72nd

82. Plaxico Burress/WR – (2000-2003) – Originally drafted by the Steelers in the first-round of the 2000 NFL Draft out Michigan State, Burress would go on to register 264 total catches for 4,206 yards and 23 touchdowns during his career in Pittsburgh which included two different stints with the team. In a 2002 game against the Atlanta Falcons, Burress caught 9 passes for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. His receiving yardage in that game served as a franchise-best until it was broken in 2015 by Antonio Brown.

Dave’s Rank: 80th
Alex’s Rank: 80th

81. Bill Dudley/HB-TB-QB – (1942, 1945-1946) – Dudley was selected in the 1942 NFL Draft with the first overall pick by the Steelers and led the league in rushing with 696 yards on 162 carries during his rookie season. That led to him being named to the All-Pro team that year. After spending the next two and a half seasons in the Army, Dudley became the league leader in rushing (604 yards), interceptions (10 total which he returned for 242 yards) and punt returns (27 total for 385 yards) in 1946. He would go on to play for the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins and was ultimately elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966 and named to the Steelers’ 75th anniversary “Legends Team” in 2007.

Dave’s Rank: N/R
Alex’s Rank: 45th

80. Santonio Holmes/WR – (2006-2009) – Holmes, who was originally drafted by the Steelers in the first-round of the 2006 NFL Draft out Ohio State, caught 235 passes for 3,835 yards and 20 touchdowns during his short four-year career in Pittsburgh. He will forever be remembered for his game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLIII that resulted in him also being named the game’s MVP. He caught 9 passes in that game for 131 yards. Holmes also returned punts and kickoffs as a Steeler.

Dave’s Rank: 89th
Alex’s Rank: 70th

  • Jaybird

    No love for my man pouncey. He’s played as many games as Plax and Holmes did for the steelers. The only list those two should be ahead of pouncey is a games suspended list.

  • Jaybird

    Great series by the way guys.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I actually, don’t think Plax should be in the top 100. The reason we let him go, was worth ethic, maturity and he fricken completely dissapeared, in big off games. We weren’t going to pay t.op dollar for those traits. I know people seem to like saying “plax” however, thats what I always remember about his time here.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I agree and appreciate what Dave, Alex and the rest of the guys, do for us fans.

  • Tom Jackson

    Right and a damn 2 time 1st team All-Pro. Btw also 2 2nd team All-Pros. Which puts him as a top 2 Center every year he wasn’t injured basically for all of the season. Hard to put a guy like Heyward next to him or even a guy like Plaxico ahead. Won’t say nothing about Holmes as he won us the SB. You can put him anywhere you want in my book. Lol

    Don’t want to bash the list here since I can imagine how tough the task is to make the top 100 and I didn’t saw half the guys ever live and part of the group I saw with a limited grasp of the game. Just some constructive criticism…

  • Steel Your Face

    Absolutely. Thank you both!

  • Phil Brenneman II

    This isn’t a “why did you rank” disagreement but if you both had Plax ranked as 80th, why did he end up at 82nd? Lol.

  • SoCal Steeler

    I’m not sure about Chad Scott. I always thought he was just fair. I remember him being called burnt toast for awhile. The Brady guy (man, something about that last name I just don’t wasn’t here very long but he did certainly have the numbers. Love all of the other guys. Great work, gentlemen!

  • Jaybird

    I remember him spiking the ball after he finally made a catch but nobody touched him and it became a turnover. Hands down that sticks in my mind more than anything when mention the guy’s name. That and the look on cowers face after he did it! Priceless.

  • Jaybird

    Dude it kills me that Pouncey is even mentioned on the same page as Chad Scott! Pouncey gets penalized for two injury seasons. Plax was here five years , his first year he might as well of been injured because he was putrid and shouldn’t even of been on the field. So that leaves 4 years with us . Pouncey has put in 4 non injured years also( 1 pro bowl , 2 all pros ) . So who has had a better 4 years ? Pouncey actually gets knocked back for being injured, but he’s played as many games as some of these guys on the list for the steelers. I don’t get it.

  • Alex Kozora

    LOL! That was my first thought, too. But the logic would go since we’re combining our rankings (in an inexact science type of way) Plax gets bumped down since I have Dudley so high. And 80 is a good spot for Holmes, who sorta meets in the middle for the 89th and 70th rankings.

    They won’t always be perfect like that but that’s the theory, anyway.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yup, I totally understand. Like I said to Phil though, this is our combined list, so there is a little of sacrificing for each side. And to Heyward, while he hasn’t earned the hardware, we know he’s worthy of it the last two seasons. It’s just offensive linemen are more likely to repeat because they aren’t stat-dependent like everyone else. Heyward will never have the Watt type sack numbers to make him a slam dunk on an All-Pro list. But he’s an All-Pro player.

  • Alex Kozora

    Thanks everyone!

  • LucasY59

    Bruener was a a guy I really appreciated, and Thigpen… the only position loaded with better all time greats is LB, Ive heard of Dudley, but dont really know much about him. and Brady is one I know nothing about. cant complain about any of the others

  • Milliken Steeler

    lol I forgot about that actually.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yup. Against Jacksonville. Brutal as brutal can be.

  • SoCal Steeler

    I agree that Pouncey gets knocked down because of the injuries and I even feel that way myself somewhat. But, I do believe that if he gets in another 5 or so un-injured seasons then he’ll move way up the list.

  • NW86

    Always liked Thigpen. The best WR they had between the Swann/Stallworth years and the Hines Ward years if you ask me. I understand why he’s ranked here given his short tenure as a starter in Pgh, but personally I would have had him a little higher.

  • NW86

    Yeah Plax is a tough one – in terms of pure talent and measurables, he was probably top 25, but never seemed to have the attitude, work ethic, “football IQ”. I felt the same way about Eric Green too.

  • Kevin Schwartz

    Not to be “that guy,” but current Steelers are getting ranked pretty low. Heyward, Pouncey, and Decastro may still be young, but they’re reasonably accomplished.

  • mokhkw

    Still can’t believe that Dave didn’t even have Bruener ranked but the young fella Kozora did(props to you Alex).

    Different era when run blocking was the most important aspect with Bettis running the ball. I honestly think Bruener played a big part in helping Da Bus revive his career.

    In 1998 vs the Packers Bruener was left to block Reggie White 1-on-1 for the entire game. He shut him out completely, White (from memory) had no Sacks or Pressures & recorded 1/2 a tackle.

    That season White had 16 total sacks, 2nd to Sinclair with 16.5.

  • mokhkw

    I think he’s ranked correctly, shame that a chronic foot problem ruined his career.

  • Jaybird

    Don’t forget Luis lipps. He was pretty good but hamstrings got him I believe

  • LucasY59

    I was going to mention that Bettis’ success had a lot of help from Bruener

  • Alex Kozora

    Well it’s always tough to compare finished careers with unfinished ones. Especially since we’re not talking about those three being in their 10th year. In the next four seasons, expect all of them to move up at least 10-15 spots. Some even higher.

  • Madi

    How does Chad Scott wind up at 89 when his rankings are 94 and Unranked?

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I decided to do my own steeler’s “top 100”. Not many current players make it since I placed more value on season played rather than potential but with time they would certainly climb up the list; found a lot of old time Steelers that I had never heard of and even back in the day they had some tough players:

    89 Frank Varrichione 1955-60 OT – Steelers 1st round pick in 1955 and first linemen picked overall in that draft. 5 Pro Bowl appearances; three as a Steeler before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1961.

    89 Mike Sandusky 1957-65 G – 4th round pick up 49ers but spent all nine years on Steelers roster. Selected to one pro bowl and a member of Steelers Legends team of pre-1970’s players.

    89 Joe Krupa 1956-64 OT – 2nd round draft pick in Steelers 1956 draft. Played 9 seasons as a Steeler selected to one pro bowl.

    88 Ray Pinney 1976-78, 1980-82, 1985-87 T/G/C – 2nd round draft pick in Steelers 1976 draft. Left to play in USFL returned after it folded. Starter in Super Bowl XIII. Plug and play lineman.

    87 Max Starks 2004-12 OT – 3rd round draft pick in Steelers 2004 draft.

    85 Jeff Reed 2002-10 K – Free agent acquisition after kicker Todd Peterson hurt in 2002. Is currently Steelers 2nd highest all-time scorer with 919 points.

    85 Jeff Hartings 2001-06 C – A former 1st round draft pick of Lions, Hartings was a free agent and converted fron guard to center where he played 6 years until his knees gave out. A 2 time pro bowler.

    84 Lamarr Woodley 2007-13 OLB – 2nd round Steelers pick in 2007. A 2009 pro bowler and 5th all time sack leader for Steelers.

    83 Gerry “Moon” Mullins 1971-79 T/G – 4th round Steelers pick in 1971 draft. Played right guard next to Ray Mansfield and Mike Webster throughout the 70’s including the first 4 Steelers Super Bowl victories.

    82 Justin Strzelczyk 1990-99 T – An 11th round draft pick in 1990 by Steelers. Started 75 of 133 games played and played all offensive line positions except center. Unfortunately, he died very young; with
    his death lined to CTE as described in the movie “Concussion”.

    80 Roy Jefferson 1965-69 WR – 2nd round draft pick and 3 rime pro bowler (2 with Steelers). Was selected for Steelers Legends team of best 24 pre-1970 Steelers. Led the NFL in receiving yards in 1968.

    80 Keith Willis 1982-87, 1989-91 DE – A free agent acquisition, once held the single season sack record of 14 for the Steelers; he is 4th all-time on the team for sacks at 59.

  • Tom Jackson

    Yeah, like I said I’m not mad at all. I mean damn creating that top 100 has to be a hellacious task and I’m very much enjoying the articles. Learning a lot here from players I didn’t know much about from the past.

    And not even that big a deal I just felt like Pouncey could’ve gotten a bit more shine here.

  • ND_Steel

    Interesting you both had #80 at 80…coincidence?

    Still feel the Pats cheated their way to that 24-17 AFC Champ win. That was one of the toughest to swallow…along with O’Donnell throwing it at Foster’s feet to lose to San Diego…

  • PittsburghSports

    Having Bruener ranked above Eric Green just kinda confirms to me that quantity outweighs quality in this series. Bruener was great, but he was basically a player like Spaeth, that would only block. He couldn’t touch what Green brought to the table albeit for a much shorter time. His best game. 5 catches 43 yards and a TD. I mean, c’mon lol.