My first crack at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster. We’ll update this throughout the offseason, right before camp and probably after each preseason game until final cutdowns. Let me know your thoughts below.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs
Analysis: I’ve been banging the gavel that Rudolph could take Landry Jones’ roster spot so I’m going to stick to my guns for now. Not something I’m guaranteeing though. They’ll all come to camp and we’ll see what happens.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: Samuels has too much versatility across the board, not just as a runner, to be left off the 53. His flexibility is vital for one of the final spots on the roster. And his experience on special teamers earlier in his NC State career will come in handy. Though his college resume was limited as a return man, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was one of the starters in Week One.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: No debate here. Nix’s spot is safe. As it should be.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Marcus Tucker
Analysis: This one was tough to figure out, especially when you throw in the uncertainty of Eli Rogers’ return. Sounds like Mike Tomlin wants him back but Rogers still has to get back to full health. That injury and shipping off Martavis Bryant leaves depth thin. I’m not a fan of Hunter but Ben Roethlisberger likes size at WR and the team kept him around last year. Tucker had a nice camp last season and offers work as a returner, coverage player, and can play inside/out as a receiver. He’d be inactive until injuries occur, however.
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: Not shaking up much here, though I agree with Dave Bryan’s assessment that Jake McGee has a chance. For now though, roll with what they had last season.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor
Analysis: One of my biggest surprises is leaving Jerald Hawkins off the roster. But you can’t stay his roster spot is guaranteed in the third year of his career. The team loves Feiler and if Okorafor picks things up quickly, he could make Hawkins the odd man out. Right now, it’s difficult to see the team carrying nine OL.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Greg Gilmore
Analysis: Another surprise here with the addition of Gilmore. Think he’ll offer more versatility than Joshua Frazier or Daniel McCullers. And it’s rare for every draft pick to make the team. Also uncommon, historically, for no UDFAs to make it, and this class is much better than the last two years.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas, L.J. Fort
Analysis: Thomas is going to be a popular sleeper, arguably the best athlete of his group. Don’t forget about Fort either, a steady special teamer who can play inside/out in a pinch.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Arthur Moats
Analysis: I’ll call my shot and assume Arthur Moats returns in the next couple of weeks. Not much competition to push him. Adams hopefully has a nice camp. Sure would make me feel better about the depth of the edge guys.
Cornerbacks (5) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen
Analysis: Don’t see a lot of movement here. Feels like these five players are locks and the only bit of interest is if a 6th player can carve out a spot. Who that player could be? Hard to say – Coty Sensabaugh would be a popular answer but I don’t really see the point.
Safeties (5) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen
Analysis: Again, these five feel pretty close to locked in. Allen is the only one not quite at that level. He’ll get a push from fellow Penn Stater Malik Golden, who I like quite a bit and I think can make a run at a roster spot. Numbers just didn’t work out for me to include him.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Also duh.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Triple duh.
Practice Squad (11)
RB: Jarvion Franklin
WR: Quadree Henderson
TE: Jake McGee, Christian Scotland-Williamson
OL: Joseph Cheek, Patrick Morris
DL: Joshua Frazier
OLB: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Darnell Leslie
CB: Trey Johnson
S: Malik Golden
Analysis: Mix of several UDFAs and futures contracts. Some of this comes down to numbers and needing things like two offensive linemen. Allowed to have 11 because Scotland-Williamson doesn’t count against the roster, an exemption as part of the NFL’s International Players Program.