With the Pittsburgh Steelers reporting to Latrobe for training camp on Saturday, now is the perfect time to release my latest prediction of the final 53-man roster. All explanations are included and as usual, I will be updating my prediction after each and every preseason game.
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on my selections in the comments below in addition to adding your own 53-man prediction.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Analysis: If it were up to me, I would only keep two quarterbacks on the roster unless Jones or Tajh Boyd show during the preseason that either of them can potentially be the long-term backup to Roethlisberger. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that three will be kept again this year so I will begrudgingly choose Jones over Boyd.
Running Backs (3*) – DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Josh Harris
Analysis: Currently, this is one of the easiest position groups to predict. *However, please keep in mind that Le’Veon Bell will start the season on the reserve/suspended list.
Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: I really don’t see any players challenging Johnson for his roster spot this year. In addition to playing fullback, Johnson can also play tight end and serve as an emergency running back. Johnson is also a core special teams player.
Wide Receivers (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates
Analysis: Unless one of the younger wide receivers on the training camp roster can outplay Heyward-Bey on special teams during the preseason, this group of five appears to be set in stone.
Tight Ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James
Analysis: James was a draft pick so unless he really falls flat on his face over the course of the next several weeks, he should make the final roster. Three plus Johnson should be enough.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, Alejandro Villanueva
Analysis: As it stands right now, I have no reason to keep Hubbard off of the 53 man roster. However, I might think differently in a few weeks depending on how rookie undrafted free agents B.J. Finney and Miles Dieffenbach perform during the preseason as either of them could legitimately unseat Hubbard. As far as Villanueva goes, I think the team might just keep nine offensive linemen once again, so holding on to him would make sense.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers, Clifton Geathers, Matt Conrath
Analysis: There’s a decent chance Geathers beats out Thomas this summer and should that ultimately wind up being the case, there is absolutely no reason to carry the $2 million salary of a player that would likely be inactive on gameday. Enter Conrath, who might just benefit from Thomas’ demise.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin
Analysis: Garvin is probably the only real questionable player in this group, but being as he is a solid special teams player, I have a feeling Danny Smith will be pounding the table to keep him once again.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: I really wanted to keep Shawn Lemon but chose Chickillo over him because of not only his age, but the fact that he was also a draft pick. Additionally, Chickillo would be a prospect to shuttle back and forth between the 53-man roster and the practice squad when Bell ultimately returns from his suspension.
Cornerbacks (6) – Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Senquez Golson, Doran Grant, B.W. Webb
Analysis: Webb is probably the only questionable player in this group, but until I see more out of Kevin Fogg, I have no choice but to keep him.
Safeties (4) – Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden
Analysis: Unless rookie draft pick Gerod Holliman really shows us something on special teams during the preseason, there’s no reason to keep more than four safeties on the 53-man roster this year. Apologies to Ross Ventrone, but unfortunately his time in Pittsburgh might soon be up.
Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham
Analysis: The Steelers chose not to bring in any competition for Suisham this season so unless he tanks badly during the preseason, he’ll be the team’s kicker once again.
Punter (1) – Brad Wing
Analysis: Wing will be pushed by newcomer Jordan Berry but as it stands right now, I have no reason to go against the incumbent.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: Like Suisham, Warren currently doesn’t have any competition on the training camp roster.
Reserve/Suspended (1) – Le’Veon Bell
Analysis: No explanation needed.
Practice Squad (10) – Cameron Clear, Miles Dieffenbach, Kevin Fogg, C.J. Goodwin, Ethan Hemer, Gerod Holliman, Howard Jones, Eli Rogers, Ross Scheuerman, L.T. Walton
Analysis: Clear might could be the next Spaeth and when it comes to Dieffenbach, I like his chances of beating out Finney. With Bell starting the season on the suspended list, Scheuerman might be needed for the first few weeks as an extra body for practices. Rogers, on the other hand, is just a shot in the dark. Holliman and Walton are both draft picks while Fogg, Goodwin, Hemer and Jones are all carryovers from last year’s practice squad.
Steelers 2015 Roster Prediction – 7/23/15