Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have played their second 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 2 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.
Let me note that there are several spots (3) that I truly believe will ultimately be filled with players not currently on the roster, but for the sake of this exercise I am only listing players currently on the 90-man group.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Bruce Gradkowski ???
Analysis: The No. 3 spot is really up in the air right now with Gradkowski currently dealing with a hamstring injury that’s likely to linger into the start of the regular season. I personally do not believe Dustin Vaughan is the answer and while I think the team could ultimately look for a No. 3 outside of the organization, I’ll stick with with Gradkowski for the time being but am open to outside options if his injury winds up with him being placed on IR.
Running Backs (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint,Daryl Richardson
Analysis: Should Bell’s suspension wind up being upheld, I fully expect Daryl Richardson to make the team as the No. 3 running back. For now, I still have Toussaint ahead of him in the roster battle.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Nix is the man here as long as he stays healthy.
Wide Receivers (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers
Analysis: Rogers has a spot locked up at this point so barring injuries, this should be the team’s five wide receivers.
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble ???
Analysis: Ladarius Green is still on Active/PUP with no signs of him being ready anytime soon. Like the quarterback position, I can see the team going outside the organization to find a third tight end in lieu of keeping Grimble, who hasn’t really shined so far during the preseason.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, Ryan Harris, Cody Wallace, Jerald Hawkins, B.J. Finney
Analysis: I just am not a big fan of Chris Hubbard. Yes, he can play tackle in a pinch in addition to guard and center, but he doesn’t excel at any one of those positions. I will go with Finney this time around as he seems to be a slightly better interior swing option of the two.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers, Ricardo Mathews, Javon Hargrave, L.T. Walton
Analysis: This has been my six defensive linemen for a while now and I have no reason to change it up after two preseason games.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Analysis: Assuming the team keeps five total inside linebackers, I’ll give the nod to Fort over rookie draft Tyler Matakevich, who can easily be stashed on the practice squad and given time to develop.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: I just can’t see any other player cracking this group after two preseason games. Rookie Travis Feeney can easily be stashed on the practice squad with Matakevich.
Cornerbacks (5) – William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, Doran Grant, Montell Garner ???
Analysis: Who will the fifth cornerback be? It very well could wind up being someone not currently on the 90-man roster as we have seen this happen several times over the years. By default, I will stick with Garner but quite honestly I don’t think he’ll be the choice after the smoke clears.
Safeties (5) – Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, Shamarko Thomas, Jordan Dangerfield ???
Analysis: Will this team even keep five safeties this year being as Grant can be an emergency option at the position? As I stated in the cornerbacks analysis, I won’t be surprised if an outsider is ultimately claimed off waivers and especially if that player is a special teams ace. For now, I’ll stick with Dangerfield but am no way married to him.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Boswell is a given.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Berry has been solid during the preseason so I expect will Monday will be waived very soon.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: Warren has easily won this job once again.
Reserve/Injured (1) – Senquez Golson
Analysis: No explanation needed.
Reserve/Suspended (2) – Martavis Bryant,Le’Veon Bell
Analysis: No explanation needed.
Reserve/PUP (1) – Ladarius Green
Analysis: Until Green is activated, I have no choice but to assume he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season.
Practice Squad (10) – Xavier Grimble, Tyler Matakevich, Caushaud Lyons, Demarcus Ayers, Travis Feeney, Brandon Brown-Dukes, Al-Hajj Shabazz, Devaunte Sigler, Matt Feiler, Cobi Hamilton
Analysis: Always fluid group of 10.