Top 50: Ranking Best on Schedule For 2016; Top Center Healthy Again

Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey.

Name: Maurkice Pouncey
Team:Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: Center
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 305
Experience: 6 seasons
College: Florida

2016 vs. Cowboys:The Steelers play host to the Cowboys this season on Nov. 13 in Pittsburgh. It'll be the Cowboys' first trip to Heinz Field since the 2008 season and just the second overall in a regular season game.  

What's the Deal: Pouncey missed the entire 2015 season with a fractured fibula that he suffered in the first preseason game. He underwent multiple surgeries over the course of the season but has fully returned, participating in Pittsburgh's OTA practices this week.

When healthy, Pouncey is one of the NFL's best centers, making the Pro Bowl in all four years in which he played at least two games. In 2013, Pouncey only played in one game because of a knee injury and then missed all of last year as well.[embeddedad0]

Expect This: If Pouncey returns to form as expected, the Steelers have a chance to be even more dynamic and balanced on offense. Ben Roethlisberger found a way to open up the passing game the last couple of seasons with three performances of at least 435 yards. But with Le'Veon Bell in the fold, Pittsburgh still wants to run the ball and grind out tough yards, something it should be able to do even more effectively with Pouncey back in the middle. 

Previous Meetings: Since Pouncey arrived in 2010, the Steelers have faced the Cowboys only once, losing to Dallas in overtime during the 2012 season. Pouncey and the Steelers' offense managed to pass for 319 yards but ran for just 69 yards and had trouble sustaining drives in the second half.

Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:

  • One of the most athletic centers in the league. Outstanding when it comes to playing on the move. Shows lateral agility and quickness. Hands and feet work well together.
  • Smart player. Knows his assignments and executes them at a high level. Aware to handle twist stunts and blitzes with ease. Never appears to be struggling or out of position when blocking. Can stay in front of his man and mirror any sudden movement, run or pass.
  • Plays with some pop in his hands. You see defensive linemen snap back when he delivers a blow. Can stop a rusher in his tracks. Plays with initial quickness and balance. Has foot speed and range. Can pull him to the outside and he is going to engage to finish the block. Makes it hard for defenders to get off him.  
  • Better upper body strength than lower body power. Position/fit blocker. When he gets in trouble it is because his legs get straight and he doesn't adjust as well. Plays as a reactionary athlete.
  • Good change of direction and recovery. Rare to see him taking a bad angle to the second level. Gets on track and works to finish.
  • Has a nasty side to him as a blocker. Will try and plant his man. Some really nice snaps as a one-on-one blocker. Gets movement with his upper body strength and foot work. Strong/power initial pass set. Gets into his man quickly or is able to help across the pocket.
  • Rock solid player that has the ability to cut the defense in half with his athletic ability. The Pittsburgh Steelers have to be thrilled to have him back in the starting lineup.

VIEW THE REST OF THE LIST:

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