Heated Battle For Steelers Annual ROTY Award With Half A Season Remaining

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now halfway through their 2017 regular season and with eight games left to be played, two of the team’s 2017 draft picks have a nice battle going when it comes to the team’s annual Rookie of the Year honors, which in Pittsburgh is known as the “Joe Greene Great Performance Award.”

Entering the team’s bye week, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster have both helped the Steelers tremendously in their first eight games and either one of the two members of this year’s class should be expected to win the annual “Joe Greene Great Performance Award” come season’s end. That award is given annually by the Pittsburgh Chapter of Pro Football Writers of America to the Steelers top rookie and is named after legendary Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene.

As for Watt’s current resume through eight games played, the team’s first-round draft pick this year out of Wisconsin has registered 28 total tackles, four sacks, five passes defensed and one interception in the seven games that he’s played in. Those stats also seemingly have him still in the running for the annual NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award as well. A strong second half by Watt that includes five or six more sacks could ultimately result in him being the Steelers first Defensive Rookie of the Year award winner since 2001 when linebacker Kendrell Bell won it.

When it comes to Smith-Schuster, who is currently the league’s youngest player at 20, the Steelers second-round selection this year out of USC currently leads all rookie wide receivers in receptions (24), receiving yards (424) and touchdown receptions (4). If that’s not enough, Smith-Schuster’s 97-yard touchdown reception against the Detroit Lions in Week 8 is currently the longest offensive pass play from scrimmage so far this season. While he’ll need some help, Smith-Schuster could still potentially win the annual NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award with a spectacular second half of season.

Watt and Smith-Schuster both figure to get plenty of playing time during the second half of the regular season and so it figures to be a fun battle to watch the remaining eight games. Last season, then-Steelers rookies cornerback Artie Burns, safety Sean Davis and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave all had solid rookie years and you could have made a legitimate argument for each to win the annual “Joe Greene Great Performance Award.” Davis, however, ultimately edged out both Burns and Hargrave for the award.

Bud Dupree was the last outside linebacker to win the “Joe Greene Great Performance Award” while Martavis Bryant was the last wide receiver to win it.

  • Richard Skalka

    How about a mention for Mike Hilton

  • SteelersDepot

    UDFA in 2016

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    I think Watt would get my vote. He’s been looking great since week 1.


    I understand people are hyped about Mr. John Smith, but I’d give my vote to TJ as of right now.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I can go either way but I would give it to juju for the simple fact that he broke a Steelers record And you hear his name more than tj watts

  • Brenton deed

    It has to be HOLBA!!!!

  • Brenton deed

    This a good sign to have at least three worthy picks like last year. Remember the year (about ten years ago) when the class was so bad they gave it to some UDFA LB who only played on ST – he was gone the following year? I suspect it would’ve been after that terrible Sweed draft (2007?)

  • Brenton deed

    Sorry two picks – just read below that Hilton is not eligible.

  • Charles Haines

    I think due to your occupation your vision has become…..shall we say, obstructed?

  • B717

    UDFA of the year 2017?

  • CP72

    I think it’s TJ now, but the gap is narrowing.

    No matter who wins Kevin Colbert has nailed the last two drafts. He’s taken an old/slow defense and turned it into a young and ascending unit.

  • FATCAT716

    As of late you hear it more than TJ but that doesn’t take away TJ’s body of work at this point. This will be fun to watch

  • Chad Weiss

    Not easy to do either when you are picking late in the draft.

  • GravityWon

    Round of applause for Colbert & Tomlin plus their scouting teams.

    Both these guys are contributing to wins.

  • WreckIess

    I think if they both keep going at their respective paces it would have to be Juju right? I mean Juju has put himself in NFL ROTY race with his play lately. Can’t thinkof anyone more deserving except for Kareem Hunt.

  • ImMikeD

    Watson is going to get some serious consideration even though he tore his ACL. That guy was tearing it up

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Hey this is a football blog. You can leave your personal lifestyle choices out of it.

  • Aj Gentile

    My vote would be for TJ. But there is no way he wins DROY. That has to go to Lattimore.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    lol you got jokes

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    You got some yourself