Every NFL player’s first trip to the Pro Bowl is special. The week is filled with fun events loaded with fan interaction and face time with the cameras. For many players who are not household names, the game presents a unique opportunity to build their brand and showcase their athletic ability simultaneously. Traditionally having a healthy presence in the star-powered exhibition game, the Pittsburgh Steelers have players who are set up to make their Pro Bowl debuts.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl Sleepers
Matt Feiler was a bright spot last season during what seemed like one of the roughest patches the Steelers have endured in several years. Marcus Gilbert was a pillar of the team’s offensive line, starting 80-plus games in eight seasons. Feiler’s skill set differs from his predecessor, leaning on dominant strength and smarts that allow him to be effective at guard or tackle if called upon. Greatly contrasting the unique athletic abilities Gilbert showed, paired with his daunting size, kept him at the premier run-blocking position for so long. After starting 10 games last year, however, nothing will be handed to the Bloomsburg University standout. Second-year hopeful Chukwuma Okorafor will battle for the starting right tackle spot but expect Feiler to anchor the right side for the black and yellow this upcoming season.
Safety Terrell Edmunds’ 2018 rookie campaign was undervalued by much of the Pittsburgh Steelers faithful, considering his high snap count as a first-year player. Edmund’s played 966 snaps on defense and 223 snaps on special teams which totals to 1,189 snaps his first season as a professional. These numbers say a lot about what his coaches see in his performance and preparation. Head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler obviously trust this young man to leave him out on the field nonstop for 15 games. Edmund’s distinct combination of strength, size and speed allowed him to rack up 78 total tackles and one interception in his first season. These athletic traits mixed with his production as a rookie suggests that Terrell Edmunds will take the next step this upcoming season and ultimately attend his first Pro Bowl.
Diontae Johnson enters 2019 as a rookie third-round wide receiver draft choice out of the University of Toledo. The Steelers took a lot of heat for “reaching” for Johnson in this year’s draft, much like the narrative after selecting Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. It is easy to disagree with his critics when watching his college tape, however. On film, Johnson makes every two-handed, one-handed, leaping and bobbled-concentration catches the pro scouts could ever want to see. That said, do not expect him to only have a chance to make the NFL’s All-Star game as a receiver but to possibly attend as a return man. Johnson received All-Conference honors for not only receiving but also for returning punts and kickoffs for the Toledo Rockets. He amassed over 1,500 total yards while scoring on both punt returns and kickoff returns in his career. Look for Johnson to get his chance at returning early on this season.
Each of these Pro Bowl-worthy contributors are aware of the opportunities that await them come the start of camp on July 26th. They must bring their best to camp knowing there will be other hungry young players right behind them waiting for their chance to make an impact on the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers season.
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