One Steeler Makes PFF Midseason All-Rookie Team

Ah, lists. They sure are fun to argue about. At the very least, they tend to draw in discussion, which tends to be more valuable and rewarding than the list itself. To that end, I have another list for you today, and another one from Pro Football Focus.

This one is the midseason all-rookie team, and there is a Pittsburgh Steelers rookie on it. One, not two.  While T.J. Watt has been starting all season at right outside linebacker, missing only one game due to injury and recording four sacks with an interception, he did not make the list.

The rookie edge defenders who beat him out for recognition were a pair of divisional rivals, in fact, with the Bengals represented by the impressive Carl Lawson, a player I admittedly liked a lot during the draft. Though he got off to a slow start due to injuries, Myles Garrett from the Cleveland Browns also made the list. He has four sacks in three games.

It’s worth noting that this list did not include an honorable mentions category. I’m certain if that was included here, Watt would have gotten a mention. He has been very solid in all phases, including on special teams, though he is still going to get better.

If you can’t guess which rookie from the Steelers made the list at this point, then I don’t really know why you’re reading this site, as you evidently don’t follow the team very closely. JuJu Smith-Schuster was one of the two wide receivers to make the list, along with Cooper Kupp of the Rams.

The article notes that Smith-Schuster is averaging 1.94 yards per route run, which is the most of all rookie wide receivers, but it reads that he “makes the team almost entirely off of his Week 8 game against the Lions where he had 193 yards on seven catches”.

Because of that game, including most of a 97-yard touchdown reception, he has 219 yards after the catch, which is more yards in total than any rookie wide receiver has aside from Kupp.

“His run blocking needs to improve to help his grade”, it continues, “but he is primed for more opportunities in the second half”. While he has made some impressive and high-profile blocks, it can’t be dismissed that he has drawn four penalties in this area.

Smith-Schuster’s four touchdown receptions also lead all rookie wide receivers, with only three of them having two or more, Kupp himself owning three scores. His quarterback rating when targeted of 135.9 is also the best among rookies.

For some reason, they also completely ignore the fact that he has the highest yards per route run out of the slot in the league, averaging 2.37 yards per route run when lined up inside. His overall yards per route run is also the 16th-highest among all wide receivers. And he has a bunch of third-down conversions.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • will

    I thought that JuJu’s run blocking has been great??

  • foremania

    Lots of holds.

  • Brian Miller

    Even compliments from PFF are backhanded!

  • Brian Miller

    For the Steelers I mean. Not sure if it is true, but it really doesn’t seem like they like us very much.

  • nutty32

    Myles Garrett has hardly played. Even when he suits up he doesn’t play the whole game. Just north of a fan boi site.

  • PaeperCup

    Carl Lawson looks good, but is he as productive as Watt. I’ll admit, I don’t rush to the tv to watch the Bengals play, but Watt seems like a more complete player. Asked to do a lot of things. And often those things that a LB like him can do are overlooked because they aren’t statistical. Even looking at numbers, Watt has way more tackles than Lawson, and an interception! Just my homerism showing face here.

  • PaeperCup

    making his 4 sacks even more impressive.

  • falconsaftey43

    JuJu has more yards and TDs than the 5 WRs drafted before him combined, that’s pretty impressive.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    But don’t watt have 4 sacks and an int

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I think he may get oroy

  • PaeperCup

    yeah he’s very impressive as well. I’m just saying, Garret is averaging 1.3 sacks per game. 4 sacks in 109 snaps, vs Watts 4 sacks in 344 snaps.

    But as I mentioned before, Watt is asked to do a lot more than rush the QB.

  • T3xassteelers

    Lawson has .5 sacks more than Watt with 10 tackles. Watt has 34 tackles, 4 sacks, an INT and 4 PDs. Watt should definitely be in over Lawson.

  • PaeperCup

    Call me crazy, but did we draft the best Offensive AND Defensive players in the draft? Is it possible that these Steelers get both OROY and DROY?

  • falconsaftey43

    No way, Hunt and Fournette in much better position to win that right now. Evan Engram is right there with JuJu in receiving stats. Kamar is doing awesome as well. Honestly, unless Hunt does nothing the rest of the year, he’s going to win it. He’s leading the league in rushing and total yards from scrimmage.

  • Ike Evans

    Lawson did that in about 110 less snaps then tj….only started 1 game this year

  • PaeperCup

    Forgot about those guys haha. You are right

  • T3xassteelers

    Yes but watt is expected to drop into coverage, not ONLY rush the passer. Other responsibilities

  • nutty32

    Probably should go back and review each sack – down, distance, opponent, context, D play call, what he does on other downs, overall responsibility on plays – to guage that, but the raw number is good. But 100% positive that Hue Jackson would take Watt’s total output these first 8 games over Myle’s.

  • Ike Evans

    Lawson I’d a linebacker in a 4-3….that argument doesn’t apply here…he doesn’t only rush. He’s not a DE in that defense

  • Chad Weiss

    Lawson also had two other sacks wiped by penalty as well

  • popsiclesticks

    And defensively, Marshon Lattimore is going to win DROY going away.

  • Steeler Nation!

    He deserves less credit for not starting or being an every down player, not more.

  • T3xassteelers

    Okay what are we defending Lawson here?! Haha

  • T3xassteelers

    Then PFF needs to make a 3-4 list and a 4-3 list lol. Watt has an INT and 4 PD’s and 24 tackles more than Lawson

  • Darksealer1995

    Why is Garrett over watt?? Dude hasn’t even played half the season what a joke.

  • Tedium cha

    He actually only rushes the passer. I live in cinci. He only plays the d end spot on passing downs.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Lawson’s not an every-down player (less than 250 snaps so far), so his production on a per-snap basis is more impressive. I think Watt will be the better player in the long run (and as you said is already more complete), but I do think Lawson has had a more ‘impressive’ performance to date between the two, taking into consideration his limited body of work.

  • PaeperCup

    No doubt, what good is that 1.3 sacks per game if he’s only playing a quarter of the season.

  • PaeperCup

    We’ll see how the second half goes.

  • will

    Ahhhhh ok

  • PaeperCup

    I think a point worth considering. If he’s soooo good, why not play him more. Because it’s the Bengals, I guess.

  • Emiliano Castrejón

    He has 4 sacks in three games while Watt, being impressive as he is, has the same amount in 7 games. The production of Garret puts him over Watt for now but there is still a lot of football to be played.

  • Emiliano Castrejón

    Probably, but he has gotten cleaner as he grows. He’ll be one of the best blocking wr’s at the end of the season

  • will

    He has recorded 3.
    ????? Is that “lots”?

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Hunts been quiet lately