Cam Heyward is coming off another strong season in the NFL, posting 10.5 sacks in his age 33 season. However, that does not mean there aren’t some questions starting to creep up about the Steelers star’s age and his ability at this point in his career. That is not on the outside, but from inside the NFL.
In Jeremy Fowler’s top ten interior defensive linemen rankings, Heyward placed at 9th overall. However, some executives did not have him in their top ten, while the highest he was ranked was 3rd overall. It still is a fall from last year, when Heyward cracked the top five at fifth overall.
However, the story here is that one NFL scout noted that his team believes Heyward is starting to decline. That does not mean that Heyward is not a great player for the Steelers, but that teams did not view him in the same light that they did previously a few years ago.
“An instinctive pass-rusher, has great strength — still one of the better power rushers,” a veteran NFL scout said in the article. “We thought he was starting to decline last year, which is to be expected given his age.”
While that could be true, Heyward’s stats don’t tell that story. He increased his sack total by half a sack from the year prior, his pressure rate went up, and he put up a career-high in quarterback hits. That is all to say that Heyward still is a very disruptive force, and while at 34, he may start to decline, it really hasn’t shown up much on the field.
This is another slight that Heyward has repetitively called out this offseason. He posted on Instagram that he takes those personally because of the pride he has in the game and how long he has been around the game of football.
“Too many people ask why I take things so personal and I shouldn’t take everything to heart. Let me share my insight- I get to live out my dream out everyday,” Heyward said. “I get to work and think about how I can be better with every fiber in my body. When I win it’s how do I duplicate or improve in the next performance. When I lose I feel like I let the place where I was born down,I let my teammates down because I can be better. I want to be known as the best at my position because I don’t think people play the game like me and I’ll work my tail off for it.
Heyward will eventually succumb to father time. That just happens to everyone. A fall down the rankings is arguably justifiable because there have new breakout players taking their game to the next level. But Heyward should still be a massive force up front for the Steelers and teams will have to worry about him every game they play against them.