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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

5 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Mean The Most To The Team’s Future

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5 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Mean The Most To The Team’s Future

Pittsburgh Steelers
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of a transition period. They’ve missed the playoffs twice in a row now, the first time that has happen since the late 1990s. They haven’t had a losing season yet, but they’ve been really close. If the Steelers don’t want to fall into NFL irrelevancy, they need to rely on a core group of young players to get them back to the top of the AFC North standings.

The Steelers are used to winning, and they have a proven formula to get there. They build around a solid running game and a stifling defense. That blueprint has worked in the past, but is it the kind of game plan that wins today? We’ll see as they once again have a good young back and are in the process of getting younger, and more talented, on defense.

Building for the future without bottoming out is tough to do in the NFL. Typically, you have to go all the way to the bottom to stockpile enough talent to get back to the top. But Pittsburgh has drafted well the last couple of years, and they just might be able to get back to the playoffs quickly.

That will depend on whether their core group of young players can step up and lead the team. They have the talent; they just have to put it all together and get the Steelers back to being the winning machine that they’re used to being.

These are the five Pittsburgh Steelers who mean the most to the team’s future.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers
Getty Images

Wide receiver Antonio Brown was the second leading receiver in the league last year with 110 receptions. Quickly becoming one of the more reliable weapons in the league, the Steelers' passing attack will revolve around Brown for the coming years.

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4. Jarvis Jones

Jarvis Jones Pittsburgh Steelers
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers' first-round pick last year, Jarvis Jones, is the future of the Pittsburgh defense. Well, they hope so at least. He had a really good rookie season, and if he can keep improving he'll become that next great Pittsburgh linebacker.

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3. Maurkice Pouncey

Maurkice Pouncey Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Center Maurkice Pouncey has started 46 games since the Steelers drafted him in 2010, but last year he only started one game before he lost the rest of his season to a torn ACL. If the Steelers are going to get back to the playoffs, they need Pouncey back to full strength next year.

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2. David DeCastro

David DeCastro Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One thing the Steelers have done really well is to stock the offensive line with good, young talent. One of the best young interior offensive linemen in the league, former first-round pick David DeCastro started all but one game for the Steelers last year.

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1. Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

After missing the first three games to a foot injury, rookie running back Le'Veon Bell broke onto the scene with 860 yards and eight touchdowns last year. A great all-around back, he also hauled in 45 receptions in the passing game. Pittsburgh has a long history of good running backs, and Bell could be the next one.