It’s been a few days now since the roster has been trimmed and tweaked, and so we can probably assume that at least this is the 53-man roster that the Pittsburgh Steelers will carry into the season opener.
With that in mind, I wanted to do a bit of analysis of some of the roster’s aspects in itself, in terms of personnel, pedigree, experience, age, and means of acquisition. It is the lattermost topic that I wanted to delve in first today, taking a look at how this particular 53-man roster was pieced together.
Steelers Draft Picks: 26*
The Steelers are widely regarded as one of the better roster-building organizations in football, and their strength has long been their ability to acquire talent through the draft. Still, as we look at the roster of today, just under half of the players on the roster were acquired by the Steelers through their own draft picks.
* Two more draft picks, Bud Dupree and Jerald Hawkins, are currently on injured reserve, while another two, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, are suspended. Still two more, from this year’s class, are on the practice squad.
Steelers UDFA Signings: 7
The Steelers currently have on their 53-man roster seven players that they originally signed as undrafted free agents, including such notables as James Harrison and Ramon Foster. Robert Golden is entering the starting lineup this year as the latest UDFA success. Notable first-year additions are 2015 UDFAs B.J. Finney and Eli Rogers.
Veteran Signings, Claims, and Trades: 14*
This category is meant to encompass all accrued talent that previously saw meaningful experience and seasons with other organizations before the Steelers acquired them, most often via unrestricted free agency. Some notable examples include Mike Mitchell, Arthur Moats, and Justin Gilbert.
* Free agent signing Bruce Gradkowski is on injured reserve, while Ladarius Green is on the PUP List.
UDFAs Originally Signed by Other Teams: 6
This space is reserved for players who were originally acquired by other teams, but were never on a 53-man roster, and often not even a practice squad. This year’s roster includes six such players, most notably Alejandro Villanueva, but also Roosevelt Nix, Jordan Dangerfield, and both their punter and kicker.
This is the story and the makeup of the Steelers’ roster in 2016, though it will be supplemented as the year goes on. They are hoping to get two of their previously-drafted players back on the roster in Bell and Dupree, for example, though in the case of the latter, it may come at the expense of another former draftee.
It is interesting to note that the Steelers have 20 players currently on their roster for whom they were not their original team, having acquired them either as veterans of at least one season—like Fitzgerald Toussaint and Cockrell—or signed as unrestricted free agents or trades—as Mitchell, or Moats—or as simply undrafted free agents or late-round picks that their original team didn’t see enough in to keep on their own roster.