<
>

AFC North Q&A: Who is the Steelers' most feared defensive player?

6/24/2015
Play1:43
Most feared Steelers defensive player

ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano talks about which Steeler opposing offenses should fear the most.

Today's question: With Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel gone, who is the most feared player on the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense?

Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: James Harrison. Can I end my answer there? Seriously, until he finally retires, Harrison will always be the most feared and intimidating player on his team’s defense. Maybe it’s the black visor. I dunno. Maybe it’s the 1,000 pounds he can squat. I dunno. Maybe it’s the five-mile stare he has that cuts through cameras and notepads and the chests of opposing quarterbacks. I dunno. Whatever it is that makes him so respected around the league will keep him that way until his career officially ends. It will be interesting to see how productive Harrison will be now that beloved longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is in Tennessee.

Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens: Let’s go old school with Harrison. Sure, this is going to raise eyebrows because Harrison is 37 and actually retired last year. But there is something that happens to Harrison when he plays the Ravens. He somehow turns back the clock to 2004 and wreaks havoc. The numbers tell the whole story. Since 2004, Harrison has 13 sacks against the Ravens. No other player has more than 8.5 against Baltimore over that time. He didn’t do this damage five or six years ago. Harrison recorded two sacks against the Ravens last season in his only game against them. He has always carried a chip on his shoulder because the Ravens cut him before training camp even began. It probably didn’t sit well with him that the Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil while Harrison was making his free-agent visit at the Ravens facility. History says Harrison is the Steelers' most feared defensive player.

Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: Excellent question. There aren’t a lot of names that jump right out, which is interesting for a Steelers unit that always seems to have somebody. Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree play the "feared" outside linebacker spots, but they have not arrived yet. It would be tempting to go with Harrison (especially in Cleveland), but he’s on the back nine. The best name to go with: Cameron Heyward. Yes, he’s an end in a 3-4 scheme, but from that spot he had 7 1/2 sacks and played well enough to be ranked as the sixth-best end in a 3-4 scheme, per ProFootballFocus.com. Heyward also has been around long enough to understand the Steelers way.