By tomorrow at 4 pm, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have cut their current roster from 90 to at least 75 players per NFL requirements. Many of these moves have been obvious for some time now, but the team will still be faced with several tough decisions, even in this first round of cuts.
Here’s my latest crack at predicting who the first 15 players will be that Pittsburgh drops from their roster.
1. RB Braylon Heard
Heard probably had more of a chance to at least grab a practice squad spot than we initially gave him, with Josh Harris’ foot injury and Jawon Chisholm having a quiet preseason. The Kentucky product was not impressive however, showing poor vision and limited athleticism or quickness. His lasting training camp impact will be serving as a tackling dummy for the defense during practice, when he took several big-time shots from various players.
2. WR Kenzel Doe
The 5’7 return man was wildly unimpressive in preseason action, showing plenty of hesitation and minimal vision in his returns. He was never anything more than a camp body, especially given the multiple muffed punts he’s had in the past month.
3. WR Jarrod West
Might be the most obvious cut on the roster, as West hasn’t played one snap since arriving in Pittsburgh.
4. TE Ray Hamilton
Even with Cameron Clear still injured, I don’t think Hamilton has a prayer of surviving the first round of cuts. The Steelers will likely continue to use Will Johnson at tight end and hope to get Clear back in full capacity for the final preseason game.
5. OT Kevin Whimpey
Not seeing a snap since the first preseason game won’t do much for your chances of making the final 53. Whimpey was miscast at tackle, but even inside at guard I doubt he survives the first round of cuts.
6. C Reese Dismukes
Dismukes struggled throughout camp, losing a multitude of one-on-one battles and looking overmatched in team drills. A plethora of bad snaps didn’t help matters, and now Dismukes hasn’t played in the past two preseason games, spelling the end of his time in Pittsburgh.
7. G Miles Dieffenbach
Two games ago I still had Dieffenbach making the practice squad as the last member of my ten-man prediction, but a recent fall from grace could drop him into the first 15 cuts. Overwhelmed in pass protection and lacking the power to really move defenders in the run game, Dieffenbach was up-and-down all camp, but really struggled in live action during the games. Collin Rahrig passed him up at left guard for the second team offensive line two weeks ago, to the point that Dieffenbach didn’t even see the field on Saturday.
8. DL Joe Okafor
Arrived at camp late and hasn’t made any impact. Camp body who was simply here to fill out the roster and give the team necessary depth.
9. DL Niko Davis
I love Davis’ heart and hustle, but he was overmatched physically at the point of attack too often, and technically he is light years from where he needs to be. He was a good player to have in camp though, as he didn’t let anyone he faced take a rep off.
10. OLB Shayon Green
When camp started, I watched Green and I thought, here’s a guy who is a lock for the first 15 cut list. Then as the days when on, the Miami product started to show up more and more as a run defender. Despite that hot start, the games exposed Green for who he is – a physical linebacker who can set the edge against the run at times, but lacks the athleticism and pass-rushing prowess to ever be considered for playing time.
11. CB Jordan Sullen
The big corner never really got going in Pittsburgh, looking out of place with his tight hips and lack of athleticism in space. With several other cornerbacks looking impressive in camp, Sullen is an easy cut.
12. S Gerod Holliman
Holliman has barely played this preseason, despite the fact that the team has battled injuries at the position. No one wants to cut him in the first 15, but Pittsburgh has several other safeties that are clearly more talented than him. You’ve got to cut either he, Alden Darby, or Jordan Dangerfield, and right now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see which ones have been more impressive and deserve a longer look.
13. DE Matt Conrath
Not much left to see from this guy, as Conrath has looked overwhelmed and overpowered all camp. He was never gonna be impressive as a pass rusher, but Conrath really hasn’t been able to make plays in any facet of the game.
14. S Ross Ventrone
Always seems like there is a surprise cut in the first 15, so don’t be surprised if Ventrone is among the initial players dropped. He never seemed to recover the ground he lost after his early training camp injury, and played just two snaps on special teams against Buffalo (zero on defense). I like Ventrone a lot, but ultimately he was always very replaceable and it is simply more cost-efficient to let him go.
15. P Brad Wing
This was a tough one for me, but I think Jordan Berry has finally done enough to knock Wing off the roster. Berry’s had a fantastic preseason, but Wing has been good as well. Steelers could elect to go one more game with both on the roster, but I think the coaching staff’s minds may already be made up.
Also Considered: S Alden Darby, S Jordan Dangerfield, LB L.J. Fort, NT Mike Thornton, OT Kelvin Palmer, OG Collin Rahrig