Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have played their first preseason game of 2016, it’s time for me to adjust my 53-man roster prediction. It’s worth noting that this is a prediction related to the 53-man roster that shows up in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins as a needed IR move or two might wind up in some shuffling being done. I have included some analysis underneath each position group and I invite you to post your own predictions and differences in the comments below.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Bruce Gradkowski
Analysis: Until we find out just how serious the hamstring suffered Saturday night by Gradkowski is, it clouds up the No. 3 spot a little. With that said, Dustin Vaughan still looks like the same player he’s been the last two preseasons and that’s not a compliment.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint
Analysis: Bell thinks he’ll win his appeal so I guess I’ll believe him for now. We should find out sure this coming week. If he’s gone for four games, Daryl Richardson gets his spot.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Barring injury, Nix is the man again this year. Catch his block on the opening kickoff Friday night? Wow!
Wide Receivers (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers
Analysis: Five or six in total? I think it will be five with Rogers being the fifth. He’s more polished and could potentially wind up being the punt returner. There is really no room on the roster for a sixth wide receiver.
Tight Ends (3) – Ladarius Green, Jesse James, David Johnson
Analysis: The uncertainly surrounding Green right now sure is unnerving. If this recurring headache report turns out to be real and career-threatening, it would certainly be a big blow. I will keep him on the 53 for now. As for Johnson over Xavier Grimble, the former can play fullback in a pinch just as Will Johnson could last year. If Green winds up being lost permanently, Grimble should get his spot.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, Ryan Harris, Cody Wallace, Jerald Hawkins, Chris Hubbard
Analysis: As much as I would like B.J. Finney to beat out Hubbard, I’m becoming resigned to the fact that the latter’s position flexibility might ultimately win out.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers, Ricardo Mathews, Javon Hargrave, L.T. Walton
Analysis: This is the same six I had after the draft and it likely won’t change barring injuries. Mathews is looking like a strong depth add after one preseason game and Hargrave is as was advertised.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Analysis: Fort had a decent showing Friday night while Tyler Matakevich played sparingly. We’ll see if that continues but for now I am swapping the two on the roster.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: This five seems to be as set in stone as the team’s group of six defensive linemen.
Cornerbacks (5) – William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, Doran Grant, Montell Garner
Analysis: With Senquez Golson headed to IR, it really makes you wonder if the team will add another cornerback after the final round of cuts are made by other teams. Remember, Golson will have to be on the original 53 before being placed on IR if the Steelers see him as a potential designated to return player. After that move is potentially made, I see Garner being the No. 5 right now because of his ability to play in the slot.
Safeties (5) – Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, Shamarko Thomas, Jordan Dangerfield
Analysis: Ross Ventrone going down with a hamstring injury Friday night sure does cloud this up and especially when you consider that Davis is likely to be the starting nickel cornerback. If that happens, the team likely won’t want him playing special teams. For now, I’ll throw Dangerfield into this mix to replace Ventrone.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Boswell is the guy and has been the guy since last season after supplanting an injured Shaun Suisham.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Berry has really taken it to Will Monday so far and thus this battle might come to an end very soon.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: It should be long until the other long snapper in camp is waived.
Reserve/Injured (1) – Senquez Golson
Analysis: No explanation needed.
Reserve/Suspended (1) – Martavis Bryant
Analysis: No explanation needed.
Practice Squad (10) – Xavier Grimble, Tyler Matakevich, Caushaud Lyons, Demarcus Ayers, Travis Feeney, B.J. Finney, Brian Mihalik, Brandon Brown-Dukes, Kevin White, Lavon Hooks
Analysis: Always fluid group of 10.