By Alex Kozora
Following Dave Bryan’s lead, here is my first crack at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 53 man roster. Needless to say, this is subject to change once we hit training camp.
Quarterbacks – (3) Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Analysis: Jones is safe for at least another season. Other than that, not much to discuss.
Running Back – (3) Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer
Analysis: Depth is a little concerning with just three running backs, including a 173 pound Archer (still counting him as a running back even with the number change), but neither Alvester Alexander, Tauren Poole, or Miguel Maysonet deserve consideration at this point.
Fullback – (1) Will Johnson
Analysis: No brainer here. Johnson didn’t play as much in 2013 with the team using so much 11 personnel still has value as a blocker, receiver, and emergency runner. Especially with only three running backs.
Tight End – (4) Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Rob Blanchflower, Michael Palmer
Analysis: Blanchflower is talented enough to beat out David Paulson. Palmer becomes a pure special teamer.
Wide Receiver – (5) Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Darrius-Heyward Bey
Analysis: An interesting group and difficult to project. Not much special teams experience with this group, especially if Archer knocks Brown off return duties. If Wheaton becomes the #2 WR, it’s unlikely he keeps his job as a full-time gunner. The #5 spot could be open to whoever wins Danny Smith’s heart but then again, Derek Moye rarely played on special teams when active last year.
Offensive Line – (8) Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Adams, Guy Whimper, Cody Wallace
Analysis: Whimper and Wallace become a swingmen. Their experience is enough to send Wesley Johnson to the practice squad. The Steelers have kept just eight lineman the last two seasons.
Defensive Lineman – (6) Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Cam Thomas, Brian Arnfelt, Roy Philon
Analysis: Debatable group. Could Brett Keisel get re-signed? Arnfelt’s hard work and strong preseason showings is enough to put him over Nick Williams. Philon is my summer flier. Always a good chance a UDFA makes the club. The team stashes Daniel McCullers on the practice squad.
Outside Linebacker – (4) Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, Arthur Moats, Chris Carter
Analysis: As much as it pains me, the team stubbornly keeps Carter on the roster again. Moats can play inside and out.
Inside Linebacker – (5) Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Jordan Zumwalt, Terence Garvin
Analysis: Crowded group. If Sean Spence looks healthy, some tough decisions will have to be made. Until we get eyes on him, he’s left off the list. Position to watch during camp. Someone isn’t getting a rose.
Cornerback – (6) Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Brice McCain, Antwon Blake, Shaquille Richardson
Analysis: The team can’t have back-to-back years with a 5th round cornerback not making the team, right? Richardson gets a spot. He and Blake become gunners.
Safety – (5) Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden
Analysis: Loads of special teams value here with Thomas, Allen and Golden all seeing extensive time there last season. Thomas slides in as the dimeback. Allen is also capable of playing there.
Kicker – (1) Shaun Suisham
Analysis: No brainer.
Punter – (1) Adam Podlesh
Analysis: Little more experience than Brad Wing and brings more consistency. Better way to avoid junior varsity punts.
Long Snapper – (1) Greg Warren
Analysis: I’m not Warren’s biggest fan but the team made little effort to replace him.
Practice Squad – (8) Wesley Johnson, Eric Waters , Daniel McCullers, Chris Elkins, Justin Brown , Miguel Maysonet, Devin Smith, Howard Jones
Kozora’s 2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Post Draft