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Steelers Grades, Snap Counts vs. Saints: New High for Pickett, Kazee Makes Strong First Impression



Steelers Damontae Kazee

The Pittsburgh Steelers got back into the win column with a 20-10 victory over the hapless New Orleans Saints on Sunday. With two trades and significant changes to the makeup of the roster due to injuries and returns, there was significant shakeup to the distribution of reps. Which players graded out highly to help give the team a winning edge? Let’s take a look:


Kenny Pickett had another middle-of-the quarterback grade, per PFF, with a 67.1. Pickett’s running grade (81.1) was well ahead of his passing grade (59.3). The total grade was Pickett’s best to this point of the season, though the third-best for a Steelers quarterback this season, behind two Mitch Trubisky starts.

QB Mitch Trubisky 0 0%
QB Kenny Pickett 84 100%

Trubisky, Cleveland 80.3
Trubisky, Tampa Bay, 78.8
Pickett, Saints, 67.1
Pickett, NY Jets, 66.9
Pickett, Buffalo, 65.8
Pickett, Miami, 65.6
Trubisky, Cincinnati, 62
Trubisky, New England, 61.6
Trubisky, NY Jets, 60.7
Pickett, Eagles, 51.9
Pickett, Tampa Bay, 49.5


The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to have settled into a time share between Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Warren continues to perform much better in later downs. He had 12 total touches in the game, averaging 2.3 yards per touch on first down, 9.3 yards per touch on second down and 11.7 yards per touch on third down. So if Harris is going to dominate the early-down snaps, something like a two-thirds to one-third playing time split seems reasonable, and that’s basically what the Steelers had on Sunday.

Grade-wise, Warren had a 75.5, third-best on the team, while Harris checked in a 54.2, third-worst on the offense. Harris was dinged for some poor pass protection in his grade.

RB Najee Harris 50 60% -11%
RB Jaylen Warren 36 43% +14%
FB Derek Watt 6 7% 3%
RB Benny Snell Jr. 0 0%


Despite giving up a huge sack, Dan Moore Jr. was the best-rated Steelers offensive lineman. Moore had an 89.6 overall grade, with a 91.6 run-blocking grade literally and figuratively leading the way. James Daniels (74.9) and Mason Cole (71.9) also had solid grades. Chukwuma Okorafor brought up the rear with a 53.9 and a dismal 39.7 run-blocking grade.

LT Dan Moore Jr. 84 100%
RT Chukwuma Okorafor 84 100%
LG Kevin Dotson 84 100%
RG James Daniels 84 100%
C Mason Cole 84 100%
C J.C. Hassenauer 0 0%
TE Trent Scott 2 2% +2%
T Jesse Davis 0 0%


Zach Gentry was a big benefactor of the additional reps provided by the trade of Chase Claypool, but didn’t necessarily take advantage of them. He had the worst grade on the offense with a 48. Gentry did well in pass blocking, Pat Freiermuth in run blocking and Connor Heyward in receiving, but no one put together an all-around great performance. Freiermuth had the best grade with a below-average (for him) 65.1.

TE Pat Freiermuth 58 69% +7%
TE Zach Gentry 43 51% +13%
TE Connor Heyward 17 20% +11%


Steven Sims got the biggest piece of the action in the slot, but was actually out-snapped in that area by Freiermuth. Olszewski followed closely behind Sims. Boykin was used outside, with George Pickens bouncing into the slot. Diontae Johnson had a 64.6, the best grade of the receivers.

WR Chase Claypool 0 0% -80%
WR Diontae Johnson 77 92% -3%
WR George Pickens 63 75% -11%
WR Gunner Olszewski 22 26% +26%
WR Miles Boykin 14 17% +6%
WR Steven Sims 32 38% +24%


With Larry Ogunjobi and T.J. Watt back in the lineup, the defensive line rotation was simplified greatly. Chris Wormley was the primary backup at defensive tackle, with Montravius Adams playing the nose and pinching in on a few snaps at tackle. Isaiahh Loudermilk was dressed but did not play.

Adams had a very solid game, pushing Cam Heyward for the best grade on the defensive line. Heyward had an 89.9; Adams an 89.7. Tyson Alualu continues to be ver poorly graded. He had a 50.2.

DT/DE Cam Heyward 39 83% +15%
DT/DE Larry Ogunjobi 36 77% +77%
NT/DT Tyson Alualu 6 13% -13%
DT Chris Wormley 15 32% -50%
DE DeMarvin Leal 0 0%
NT Montravius Adams 13 28% -12%
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk 0 0% -40%
DT Carlos Davis 0 0% -21%


Watt didn’t quite get back to his usual workload, but he got pretty close. Figure Watt to creep into the mid-80% range and Highsmith to drop down to that point going forward, with Malik Reed getting the lion’s share of the additional reps. Grade-wise, Watt might’ve been a little rusty. He topped out at 71.5. Highsmith led the defense with a 91.4.

OLB T.J. Watt 37 79% +79%
OLB Alex Highsmith 43 91% +3%
OLB Malik Reed 14 30% -26%
OLB Jamir Jones 0 0%
OLB Ryan Anderson 0 0% -12%


Myles Jack dressed but was held out due to his knee injury, leading to Devin Bush and Robert Spillane playing nearly the entire game. Spillane never came off and Bush only left the field in the Dime package. Spillane had excelled run defense and tackling grades, but struggled in pass rush and coverage, making his status as the every-down linebacker of the duo very questionable. Bush was solid all the way through for a 73.2 grade.

ILB Myles Jack 0 0% -89%
ILB Devin Bush Jr. 40 85% +11%
ILB Robert Spillane 47 100% +54%
ILB Marcus Allen 0 0%
ILB Mark Robinson 0 0%


How about this first game for Damontae Kazee: played all 47 snaps and led the secondary with a 76 grade. Levi Wallace and Terrell Edmunds were right there with him as 100%-snappers with grades in the mid-70s and Art Maulet did very well, too. Cam Sutton had a tough day, with a 60.8 grade.

SS Terrell Edmunds 47 100% +2%
FS Minkah Fitzpatrick 0 0% -100%
BCB Ahkello Witherspoon 0 0% -53%
BCB/SCB Cam Sutton 47 100%
BCB Levi Wallace 47 100% +100%
SCB Art Maulet 31 66% +5%
FS/SCB Tre Norwood 8 17% +12%
SS Miles Killebrew 0 0%
BCB James Pierre 0 0% -47%
BCB/SCB Josh Jackson 0 0%
FS Damontae Kazee 47 100% +100%
FS/SCB Elijah Riley 0 0%