I posted my first roster prediction just as training camp was getting started. For a refresher, and appropriate condemnation, you can review it here. After one preseason game, here is where I stand currently.
Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs
There is absolutely no reason to expect that this will change. The only thing that could alter the depth chart at quarterback is an injury.
Running Back (4): Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Knile Davis, Roosevelt Nix
After one preseason game and a few weeks’ worth of training camp, I think free agent signing Knile Davis still holds the edge for the third running back position, but somebody like Terrell Watson can make it interesting if he gets the opportunities.
Wide Receiver (6): Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, Darrius Heyward-Bey
I am making a change here knowing that it can change quickly. For the time being, I am flipping Sammie Coates for Justin Hunter, largely predicated on the fact that Coates hasn’t been around and has fallen behind. But he is expected back soon and could easily regain his standing. That could be at Hunter’s expense, or Darrius Heyward-Bey’.
Tight End (3): Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble
So far there is no compelling reason to shake things up here, but I am interested in seeing more from Jake McGee. Xavier Grimble has improved as a blocker, but if he keeps dropping passes and McGee plays well, including as a pass-catcher, the third tight end spot could be in play.
Offensive Line (8): Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, B.J. Finney, Jerald Hawkins, Chris Hubbard
It’s hard to see this changing any time soon, but now it’s becoming more clear that Hubbard is going to be the swing tackle this year, and not Hawkins.
Defensive Line (6): Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Johnny Maxey
Like Dave Bryan in his own most recent roster prediction, I too am separating from Daniel McCullers. While Johnny Maxey hasn’t been incredible, McCullers is looking like the most expendable with L.T. Walton seemingly firmly in the role of second-string nose tackle.
Outside Linebacker (5): Bud Dupree, James Harrison, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Arthur Moats
I had Keion Adams here as a long-term prediction, and I think that he can still ultimately win the roster spot, but at the moment there is no reason to do so. We don’t even know how much time he will miss with his shoulder injury, and Moats didn’t show any reason not to have him on the roster.
Inside Linebacker (5): Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Because Daimion Stafford never decided to show up, it’s unlikely the Steelers are going to keep five safeties. Johnson or Fort will most likely be the beneficiary here. Both of them showed well on defense in the preseason opener and both are contributors on special teams. I’m actually somewhat relieved.
Cornerback (6): Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, William Gay, Cameron Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, Mike Hilton
Yeah, I just can’t have Senquez Golson on here anymore, not at least until he gets back on the field and plays well in a game. Mike Hilton did everything he needed to do in the preseason opener, including on special teams. Others are in doubt, but I don’t think Coty Sensabaugh is a 100 percent lock. Either Golson or Brian Allen could potentially make a run, but Sensabaugh is the more likely option.
Safety (4): Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield
I had Stafford on my initial prediction after training camp opened even though he didn’t report. That turned out to be a waste of time, as it seems he is basically retired. There isn’t a lot of competition for these four spots.
Kicker: Chris Boswell
The Steelers don’t even have another kicker in camp and they may not bring one in. Boswell is young and can handle it. Plus they all need to work on a rapport with a new long snapper.
Punter: Jordan Berry
The same argument for Boswell applies to Berry. Both are already solid at their jobs but still have upside.
Long Snapper: Colin Holba
With Greg Warren out of the picture, there aren’t many road blocks for Holba to take over at long snapper. He just needs to be consistent.
Practice Squad (10): WR Demarcus Ayers, TE Jake McGee, RB Terrell Watson, T Brian Mihalik, OL Keavon MIlton, DE Francis Kallon, DT Roy Philon, OLB Keion Adams, CB Brian Allen, S Jacob Hagen
It’s interesting to see how much this has clarified already. I’ve made several changes here. Obviously Scott Orndoff is no longer on the roster. Mihalik stay for now, but I have Milton returning to the practice squad, where he spent last season, with Ethan Cooper not showing much. With Maxey now on the 53, Francis Kallon’s raw athletic ability makes for an interesting candidate. Philon is making more plays than Lavon Hooks. With five inside linebackers now on the roster and Adams not, I now have an outside linebacker displacing an inside on the practice squad. With only four safeties now on the roster, Hagen gets back as well.