Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown
- Position: Wide Receiver
- Receptions: 135
- Yards: 1,834
- Average: 13.5 yards/rec
“Martavis Bryant only played in 11 games last season and Ben Roethlisberger played in 12. It was another season where the offense relied on Brown as they’re only consistent threat in the passing game, and the fewest games played by ‘Big Ben’ since 2010. Adding to the offensive plight was the loss of star running back Le’Veon Bell to suspension and injury resulting in just six game appearances by the 2013 2nd-round pick. Despite all of this, Brown turned in the best season of his six-year career by tallying 25 catches of at least 20 yards (eight which went for more than 40) and making the All-Pro a one-man highlight reel; complete with a goal-post pile-driver.
While Pittsburgh would obviously prefer to have their three-headed monster on the field at the same time, it was perfectly clear that as long as Brown was on the field, the Steelers had a chance. With another suspension on the horizon for Bryant, and more questions surrounding the long-term health of both their quarterback and running back, it’s clear how valuable Brown is and how valuable he will continue to be.
---David Harrison (@adwda11)
Defensive Player of the Year: Cameron Heyward
- Position: Defensive End
- Solo Tackles: 39
- Assisted Tackles: 15
- Sacks: 7
- Forced Fumbles: 1
- Passes Defended: 2
Kicks Blocked: 2
“No Steelers’ defenders made the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season, and finished in the middle or bottom of the league in every category except against the run, and sacks. Pittsburgh’s defense finished third in the league with 48 sacks, and was one of just seven teams to hold opposing offenses under 1,500 yards. You can’t achieve those stats without having some forces up front, and Cameron Heyward is the best in Steel Town. The fifth year player out of Ohio State has been a strong presence on the defensive front, and has racked up at least five sacks each year since 2013, including 7.5 in 2014 and another 7 sacks in 2015.
Finishing tied for the 15th most sacks in the league is a great asset to a defense needing some pieces to become a complete unit. With needs in the middle of the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary, the Steelers will look to build around Heyward and fellow Buckeye Ryan Shazier. Perhaps the most important statistic Heyward has brought to the team is attendance. Having played in every game of his five year career he gives the team a cornerstone to build upon. While there’s no doubt the defense needs help, the presence of such a productive keystone is going to allow the team to build around him, and improve as he does throughout his career. The 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers will depend greatly on these two players, along with the healthy return of other impact guys. This year’s draft seems to loom as one of the biggest in team history, but no matter who the team adds, these two staples will ensure they have a chance to win every Sunday for a long time to come.”
---David Harrison (@adwda11)
The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the regular season with a 10-6 record and will have the 25th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Brendan Walker is an NFL Analyst for Pro Football Spot. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @b_dog_walker