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Steelers DL Cam Heyward Named Best 31st Draft Pick of All Time

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Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward

The Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten tremendous draft value from some of their players, including current defensive captain Cam Heyward, who was named the greatest 31st pick in the history of the NFL by CBS Sports this week.

“It takes a lot to stand out among the many great defensive linemen in Steelers history, but Heyward has done his part,” wrote CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin. “He’s ranked inside the top 10 in Pro Football Focus’ grading of interior defensive linemen three times in the past four seasons, including second behind only the great Aaron Donald in 2019. …

“Signed with Pittsburgh through the 2024 season, Heyward should have several more productive years in his future. Already named the best No. 31 pick in our project last summer, Heyward should have every opportunity to solidify that standing in the future.”

Heyward has been a force in the Steelers’ defense since he was drafted No. 31 overall in the 2011 draft. He’s gathered five Pro Bowl selections, three first team All-Pros and a second team All-Pro nod across 11 seasons. What’s perhaps been most impressive about the 32-year-old is that he plays like a fine wine, in the sense that he has only gotten better with age. All of the previous mentioned accolades have come within the past five seasons. 

RELATED: From the Steelers Locker Room: Cam Heyward on Getting Back to Playoff Success

He has 68 career sacks, which is a high total for a player who spent a large portion of his career along the inside of the line. Of those sacks, 43 have come within the last five seasons.

His late bloom makes him a borderline case for the NFL Hall of Fame after his career. In the CBS Sports ranking, he’s actually ahead of NFL Hall of Famer Curley Cupp who played from 1968-81 for the Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions gathering an unofficial 68 sacks en route to six Pro Bowls, six All-Pro Teams and the Chiefs’ first ever Super Bowl victory.

Heyward’s case as a Hall of Famer is borderline considering his late start, but his ranking by CBS Sports suggests that he could very well receive a gold jacket once his career is over.

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