End Of Season Pittsburgh Steelers Awards

Pittsburgh Steelers Awards

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over following a 28-14 win over the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers finished the season 9-8 and have extended coach Mike Tomlin’s streak without a losing season to sixteen straight. With new faces all over the team to start the year, who were some of the key contributors on both sides of the ball? Without further delay, here are the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers awards.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Pat Freiermuth

A rookie quarterback’s best friend is a safe, reliable target that is open during broken plays. As Kenny Pickett became the starter midway through the season, there was a growing period for the offense. Freiermuth was second on the team in receptions, yards, and targets. He finished the year with 63 receptions for 732 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Drops were a problem for the entire offense, but Freiermuth had the least of the trio of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Freiermuth. He brought a mean streak to the running game, assisting in blocks at all three levels. Freiermuth’s ability to catch the ball paired with his blocking made him the offensive player of the year for the Steelers. The tight end position is asked to do a lot for the offense, and Freiermuth delivered.

Defensive Player of the Year: Alex Highsmith

As key starters TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick missed games, Alex Highsmith did more than filled in. His 14.5 sacks led the team, which finished as one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. Highsmith forced five fumbles to go with his sack count and did most of his damage without his rushing mate TJ Watt taking pressure off of him. The third-year player out of Charlotte took a huge step forward this year and will be part of a dangerous pass-rush duo moving forward. He is under contract for 2023 and will command a large payday in 2024 if this is his new normal.

Rookie of the Year: George Pickens

George Pickens was made famous during the draft season after this picture became a meme. While the outfit is hilarious, his season was nothing to laugh at. Pickens was not supposed to get that many targets across from an already established wide receiver in Diontae Johnson. He was not supposed to lead all rookies in yards per reception (minimum 20 receptions). He was not supposed to lead the Steelers in receiving touchdowns. The rookie out of the University of Georgia finished with 52 receptions for 801 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Additionally, he found his way into the end zone for a rushing touchdown. He proved all of the doubters wrong this year and is primed for an enormous 2023 season.

Most Improved Player: Cameron Sutton

This year was not pretty for the Steelers secondary. A Week 11 matchup against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals highlighted just how porous the secondary could be, but was also a turning point for Sutton. Admittedly, Sutton is still not the long-term CB1 solution. But his play in 2022 showed promise as he appears to be more than worthy of re-signing in 2023. Sutton finished the season tied for seventh in passes defended in the NFL and had the second-most interceptions on the team.

Most Valuable Player: Najee Harris

In a league where running backs are less and less valuable, Harris has proved himself more and more essential. Harris is the preeminent 21st-century running back. Impressively he finished the year with 1038 rushing yards, and seven rushing touchdowns while also securing 41 receptions for 229 yards and three receiving touchdowns. In fact, the Steelers offense relied on Harris in every situation. The former first-round pick has been the face of the franchise this year, and hopefully, as the offense improves in 2023 Harris will receive more national recognition.

Just like in this clip, Najee Harris literally carried the Steelers in 2022.