My last crack at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster. Read ’em and weep.
Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs
Analysis: Three up, three down. The status quo.
Running Back (3): Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Terrell Watson
Analysis: To be transparent, I was going to put Knile Davis on this list. Then the news came of his impending release. So I’ll still take the L here. Watson hasn’t been assured a spot but Fitzgerald Toussaint is pretty much a worse version of Davis. Watson brings a unique element and was the best pure runner while showing a competent level on special teams.
Fullback (1): Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: No changes here.
Wide Receiver (6): Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates
Analysis: Justin Hunter finished the season on a high note but the snap count in the third game, Coates dominating the reps, and Hunter’s complete lack of special teams value makes him an awfully tough sell as the #6 WR.
Tight End (3): Vance McDonald, Jesse James, David Johnson
Analysis: There’s no compelling reason to keep 4 TEs and Xavier Grimble hasn’t been consistent enough to keep his spot. There’s a reason why the Steelers made the trade for McDonald. And it wasn’t because David Johnson was inconsistent.
Offensive Tackle (4): Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, Jerald Hawkins, Chris Hubbard
Analysis: Hawkins is still safe despite a bad camp. He’ll get at least a third year to measure his progress. Heat will be on next year though.
Offensive Guard/Center (5): Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler
Analysis: I still like Feiler’s body of work overall. I assume the team will keep ten offensive linemen and I don’t think they’re deep enough to do that off just practice squad guys.
Defensive Line (6): Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Lavon Hooks
Analysis: The last defensive end spot could be an area the team adds to on a waiver claim. Not really comfortable with Hooks as the guy. But running over Johnny Maxey the last two weeks is a telling sign. Initially at least, I think Hooks makes it.
Outside Linebackers (5): James Harrison, Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Arthur Moats
Analysis: No changes here. Steven Johnson has been out and Moats simply doesn’t miss any reps. There’s comfort in that.
Inside Linebacker (4): Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, LJ Fort
Analysis: L.J. Fort is a lock. Strong camp and preseason.
Cornerback (6): Artie Burns, Joe Haden, William Gay, Coty Sensabaugh, Cam Sutton, Mike Hilton
Analysis: Hard to imagine Mike Hilton getting knocked off the roster. Counter-intuitive to the Steelers culture that every guy has a shot. If Hilton doesn’t make it, who can? Ross Cockrell doesn’t offer much of anything on special teams, is less versatile than Sensabaugh so he gets cut. Maybe they try to trade but good luck.
Safety (4): Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield
Analysis: A 5th safety could definitely be added with Dangerfield’s injury. Maybe Jacob Hagen initially and then a safety gets added on Sunday. But these injuries are impossible to figure out on such short notice so I won’t guess and tear up my entire roster.
Kicker (1): Chris Boswell
Punter (1): Jordan Berry
Analysis: Also. Duh.
Long Snapper (1): Colin Holba
Analysis: This one is really close. Push comes to shove, they go with Holba, who had a decent enough performance against Carolina. But Mike Tomlin made this one sound wide open going into Thursday night. Fans better know Kameron Canaday’s name, just in case.
Practice Squad (10): Trey Williams, Demarcus Ayers, Marcus Tucker, Jake McGee, Brian Mihalik, Roy Philon, Farrington Huguenin, Matt Galambos, Brian Allen, Jacob Hagen
Analysis: Shaking up the practice squad. Dashaun Phillips removed after the Haden trade, bolstering this corner group. Have enough slot guys on the 53 (Gay, Sutton/Hilton). Pretty heavy at WR, eight in total, but Tucker gets on for merit. Choosing Roy Philon over Francis Kallon on merit. Philon was objectively more impressive. Malik Golden removed after getting hurt vs Carolina. Terrish Webb is a sleeper.
Game Day Inactives (7): Dobbs, Hawkins, Feiler, Coates, Hooks, Moats, Sutton
Last Five Off The Roster
1. Justin Hunter
2. Demarcus Ayers
3. Xavier Grimble
4. Brian Allen
5. Steven Johnson