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Steelers DT Cam Heyward Snubbed in All-Pro Vote



Cam Heyward Damar Hamlin as the Steelers played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)
Cam Heyward as the Steelers played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

There’s no two ways about it, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward was a significant snub from the 2022 Associated Press All-Pro team.

Heyward, who has been a first-team selection in 2017, 2019 and 2021 and a second-team choice in 2020, will be left off despite having one of the best seasons of his career at age 33 and in his place are players that don’t match up statistically.

Among this year’s crop interior defensive lineman, Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs was clearly the king. Jones had 15 sacks to lead all NFL linemen, and also paced the league in hurries from his position. He also played the second-most snaps and had the highest PFF grade at 92. Jones was clearly a deserving choice at the top of most ballots.

From there, two New York studs, Giants tackle Dexter Lawrence and Jets lineman Quinnen Williams, also had strong years. Lawrence was tied for first in PFF grade, Williams was third. Williams was second in sacks. Lawrence was second in tackles. They tied for second in quarterback hits. The AP voters put Williams on the first team and Lawrence on the second. Nothing wrong with any of that.

But for the second spot on the second team, the honor went to Jeffrey Simmons of the Tennessee Titans, and that’s a choice that just does’t hold up. Compared to Simmons, Heyward had more sacks, more tackles, more tackles for loss and more quarterback hits, all while playing 39 fewer snaps. He had a far higher PFF grade, 89.8 compared to 81.1. PFF rated Simmons the 11th-best interior linemen in the league this year, a far cry from fourth.

Aaron Donald is probably the only other choice that deserves any mention. Donald was limited by injury, but still managed to put up five sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 49 tackles and 10 TFL in 615 snaps — only 75 fewer than the fully healthy Williams. Donald’s 90.5 PFF grade suggests he belongs in the conversation.

And to sure, stats aren’t the only concern, but it doesn’t need to be said what kind of emotional leader and locker room presence Heyward is for the Steelers. His candidacy only gets better when you look beyond the black and white into issues of heart and mind. His status as the Steelers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award speaks volumes. He’s a multi-time captain as voted on by his teammates. Heyward is everything you could want an NFL player to be.

If it was Donald, a multi-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who surely deserves a bit of a mulligan on his first non-dominant season, it would be one thing. But to pick Simmons over Heyward was just a obvious error by the AP voters.

RELATED: Minkah Fitzpatrick Earns Third AP All-Pro Nod

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