The Next Generation of the Steel Curtain

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Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) rushes the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) defends during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Heyward

You can’t call it a Steel Curtain if it doesn’t have a combination of great defensive lineman on it. And those great defensive lines always had one guy that the defensive line was built around. In the ’70s, that man was “Mean” Joe Green, in the 90’s it was Joel Steed, and in the 2000s, it was Brett Keisel.

Wth Keisel now gone, 2011 1st-round pick Cam Heyward is the next generation of the Steel Curtian. The Steelers just extended him to 6-year, $59.25 million deal this offseason to make him that. Heyward is a great run defender, but he got that contract because of his ability to rush the passer too.

He recorded 7.5 sacks last season and racked up 12 QB hits with 38 hurries, according to ProFootballFocus. That’s huge production you don’t always get from a 288-pound end in a 3-4 defense. And of course, the Steelers are happy to build the next generation of the Steel Curtain around him.

Next: Ryan Shazier