Steelers’ Cam Heyward Named Best Ever, No 31 Overall Picked

Cam Heyward Steelers

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Cameron Heyward of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs into the field during a player introduction on December 19, 2021.

The folks at CBS Sports were recently determined to try to identify the best players ever picked from the NFL Draft’s 32 first picks. Lo and behold, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive midfielder Cam Heyward has been named the best player ever drafted No. 31 overall, ahead of two players who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Five or five years ago, Heyward wouldn’t have been part of the conversation, but there’s no denying that he’s getting better with age. It wasn’t until 2017, for the first time, that Heyward was named to the Pro Bowl (and All-Pro for first place), according to the Pro Football Reference. Since then, he has been named to the Pro Bowl four more times, winning the All-Pro title two more times, including in 2021.

Last year, Pro Football Focus rated Heyward as the second-best inner defensive midfielder in the NFL, behind Three-Time Defensive Player Aaron Donald.

That’s good news for the Steelers, who have Heyward under contract until 2024, having signed a five-year contract extension with him in September 2020.

What chance does Cam Heyward have to be a hall of fame?

Heyward, who will turn 33 on May 6, the numbers need more in the way of honoring the Pro Bowl and All-Pro for a realistic chance at the Hall of Fame, at least if the Pro Football Reference Hall of Fame Monitor (HOFm) is any indication.

HOFm gives Heyward a score of 56.93, while the average Hall of Fame defense score is 104. On the plus side, there are three players in his position with lower scores already in the Hall, but they retired in 1985 or earlier. The next closest places above him are Charles Haley (63.05) and Richard Dent (64.4), who retired in 1999 and 1997 respectively.

Heyward was drafted by the Steelers in 2011 in Ohio State. So far, he has appeared in 166 games with 131 starts. During that time, he’s been involved in 540 tackles (340 solos), including 101 saves, 68 tackles, 153 midfield hits, plus 42 tackles, 2 intercepts , 7 times of forced fumbling and 6 times of recovery.

Cam’s younger brother, Connor Heyward, has the opportunity to enlist later this month, after playing his college football at Michigan State.

Best of the Rest at No. 31 Overall

As for the other four players who made the CBS Sports Top 5 in 31st overall, it would be:

5. Close-ended Greg Olsen, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2007.
4. Center Travis Frederick, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.
3. Flanker Tommy McDonald, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1957 (in the third round). McDonald’s was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 1998 Class.
2. Handle defense Curley Culp, who was selected by the Kansas City Sheriff in 1968 in round two. Culp is housed in Canton with a Rank of 2013.

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