2018 SCU Awards: Steelers Most Improved Player of the Year

Steel City Underground presents the 3rd annual SCU Awards. Our panel of contributors all voted on various awards for the Steelers based on their performances in 2018. 

Comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our winners and nominees. 

The Most Improved award was one of the easiest votes here. While there were a couple of worthy candidates, one player, in particular, surpassed almost everybody’s expectations and went on to have a stellar season.

James Conner

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Many of us expected Conner to make a big jump in his sophomore season but very few of us expected him to put up THESE numbers: 973 rushing yards, 497 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns.

The crazy thing too is these numbers include a very slow start for the offense and Conner missing a few games. Had Conner started all 16 games, rather than 13, his numbers would have projected to 1,194 rushing yards, 612 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns.


Now yes, many will point to the Steelers having one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines and running schemes in the NFL. It’s true, this assisted Conner and it’s certainly possible a full season of Steven Ridley and Jaylen Samuels could’ve put up similar numbers. However, if you watched Conner play you’d see how talented he is.

Not only does he hone the patient running style Le’Veon Bell had, but he also had the ability to lower his pads and straight-up run through his opponents. He managed to trim some weight during the offseason, which assisted his burst and speed, all while retaining his strength and power. I love Bell’s patient style, but it’s very refreshing having a running back who attacks the hole when necessary.

Conner’s arrow is pointed up and I expect him to be leading the Steelers backfield for years to come.

The votes: James Conner (6), Sean Davis (3), Coty Sensabaugh (1)

Stay tuned as we continue to roll out the remaining SCU awards!

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