Cameron Heyward, DL
The Pittsburgh Steelers rebounded from their Super Bowl loss to the Packers when they turned the 31st overall pick in the 2011 Draft into Cameron Heyward. While Heyward saw playing time his first two seasons with the Steelers, he didn’t earn a starting role until taking over for Ziggy Hood in the 2013 season. After finishing the season with 5 sacks, Heyward would go on to lock down the defensive end position until sliding into a more interior role in 2018.
Heyward has since gone on to become the been the cornerstone of the Steeler defense the past decade after the team saw departures of long time starters Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, Ike Taylor, and Troy Polamalu. As a nine-year veteran and seven-year starter, Heyward has been the lynchpin of the Steelers defensive line, making an appearance in three Pro Bowls and is a two-time first-team All-Pro.
Heyward ranks fourth in tackles for loss and sixth in sacks in franchise history and ranks amongst the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL. At 31, the defensive captain continues to play at his All-Pro level and was vital in a defense finishing first in yards allowed per play, turnovers, and sacks.
Heyward is entering his final year of a six-year extension and is currently negotiating a deal to stay in Pittsburgh longer.
Heyward has missed just one game since his 2016 season was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the second half of the season. While he may not make the most headlines, Heyward has been one of the Steelers’ best defenders over the past decade and can make a case as one of the NFL’s best defensive linemen from the 2010s.