While I hasten to note that we do not have official confirmation on the many, many reports that have been floating around the internet for the past day regarding indications that Player X is expected to be released while Player Y has been told that he will make the 53-man roster, the early indications suggest that the Pittsburgh Steelers should retain at least six of their eight rookie draft picks on the roster this season.
Of course, the team’s second-round draft pick, cornerback Senquez Golson, has already been placed on the injured reserve list, which will force him to miss the entirety of his rookie season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.
We are also taking some liberties in assuming that the rest of the Steelers’ draft picks through rounds one and five are expected to make the roster, though those appear to be safe assumptions.
Certainly, first-round outside linebacker Bud Dupree will be making the roster, as will Sammie Coates, the Steelers’ third-round wide receiver, especially in light of the suspension of Martavis Bryant. The team drafted him in part due to Bryant’s situation.
Cornerback Doran Grant, drafted in the fourth round, appears to be a shoe-in to make the roster after the Steelers have reportedly informed B.W. Webb and Kevin Fogg that they will be released. The team has just five cornerbacks on the roster.
Likewise, with only three tight ends on the roster, it seems extremely unlikely that Jesse James fails to make the roster, after being selected in the fifth round from a draft group that the team regarded as thin amongst the style of tight ends that they prefer.
Then there is sixth-round defensive end L.T. Walton, who has started in place of Stephon Tuitt over the course of the final two preseason games and logged a lot of time. There were other options to start, so that seems a strong indication that he will be kept.
Finally, according to his girlfriend, sixth-round outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo has also been told that he will be making the 53-man roster. The indications were there all along, even though this likely means that the Steelers carry five outside linebackers. The team consistently fed him special teams snaps throughout the preseason.
The question now remains what happens with the team’s seventh-round draft pick, safety Gerod Holliman, who tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions last season. Some beat writers have suggested that he has been earmarked for a spot on the practice squad all along.
While it is certainly debatable whether or not Holliman is deserving of a spot over some of the other candidates at safety, it would not be a surprising move. The team did give him 12 snaps on defense in the final preseason game, and over 80 over the course of all five games.
Thus, it still remains possible that Pittsburgh will retain all eight draft picks in one capacity or another within the organization, but as of the moment it seems likely that six will have made the 53-man roster.