With the team’s 2018 training camp about to get underway at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, it’s time again for me to post another 2018 53-man roster prediction for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As usual, I have included some analysis underneath each position group and I invite you to post your own differences in the comments below along with your own 53-man roster prediction.
My next stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will be posted after the team’s first preseason game and after that, one will come every week until the final cuts are made.
Previous versions are linked below:
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: I’ve been stuck on these three since the draft and I have no reason to change them up before training camp gets underway. Unless Rudolph can show enough in the coming weeks to warrant backing up Roethlisberger, one has to think that Joshua Dobbs will ultimately be the odd man out and Jones will stay in Pittsburgh. If that happens, perhaps Dobbs can find his way to the Steelers practice squad for the season.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: With Bell sitting out camp and the preseason once again, Conner and Samuels, who was drafted this year in the fifth-round, should get plenty of chances to show their stuff. Conner should be a lock and Samuels should ultimately make it as well if he can show development as a pass protector and special teams player in the coming weeks. I just can’t advocate Stevan Ridley or Fitzgerald Toussaint sticking around another season.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Nix has been the team’s fullback and core special teams player for a several seasons now and barring an injury, he should stick once again this year.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Marcus Tucker, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter
Analysis: I’ve previously had Eli Rogers on my 53 but it doesn’t appear as though he’s a lock to return to the Steelers now. Will the Steelers ultimately keep five or six wide receivers this year? Brown, Smith-Schuster and Washington are all locks and I like the chances of Tucker finally being able to kick the door down as well. If the team keeps just five wide receivers in total, the final spot could come down to Heyward-Bey and Hunter. The former contributes on special teams while the latter doesn’t. Against my better judgement I will keep six wide receivers in total with Hunter being No. 6 and likely inactive on game days. Head coach Mike Tomlin sure seems to have a soft spot for him.
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: After Jake McGee went down injured earlier in the offseason, this position group seems like it might be written in permanent marker. While stranger things have happened, barring injuries, you would think these three will be the three.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Jake Rodgers
Analysis: Will it be 8 or 9 offensive linemen kept this year? Feiler currently appears destined to be the new version of former Steelers offensive lineman Chris Hubbard. Now that tackle Jerald Hawkins has been lost for the entire 2018 season due to injury, there could be an opening on the 53-man roster for another tackle-capable player, I keep choosing Rodgers because he was thought enough of to be kept around on the practice squad at times last season. Newcomer Bryce Harris, a somewhat experienced player as well and rookie undrafted free agent R.J. Prince will likely be in the running for a potential ninth offensive lineman spot. On the surface and barring any camp injuries, the first eight on my list appear to be locks.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Joshua Frazier
Analysis: Ive been stuck on this group of six defensive linemen since the draft. The first five appear destined to make the final 53. On paper, it seems like we only need to find out which player will be No. 6. Personally, I think this will be a battle between the two rookie defensive tackles, Joshua Frazier and Greg Gilmore. If Daniel McCullers makes the 53 again this year, something has likely gone wrong.
Inside Linebackers (4) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas
Analysis: Bostic, Williams and Matakevich are all set to make up this position group that will ultimately include either one or two more players. Thomas, a priority undrafted free agent this year, enters training camp with quite a bit of buzz surrounding him. Should he falter and the Steelers only keep four inside linebackers in total, L.J. Fort might make it once again. If the Steelers keep five inside linebackers in total, there’s obviously a chance that both Thomas and Fort stick around on the 53 past the preseason.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Analysis: We know the Steelers will keep at least four outside linebackers this year and maybe as many as five in total. With Dupree, Watt and Chickillo all locks and that should leave Adams, Adeniyi and perhaps Farrington Huguenin all battling for one to two spots. Adams is expected to stick this season after having his rookie season wiped out by a shoulder injury. As for Adeniyi, he’ll be one to watch closely during training camp. Will the Steelers final four or five outside linebackers ultimately include a player not currently on the roster? I wouldn’t totally rule that possibility out.
Cornerbacks (5) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen
Analysis: It certainly seems like this group of five cornerbacks has been set in stone since January. On the surface, Coty Sensabaugh is outside the bubble with training camp starting. One injury in the coming weeks, however, could change that.
Safeties (5) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen
Analysis: Since the draft ended, it certainly appears as though the Steelers safety group might be set in stone with the final number being five this year. Should only four be kept in total, perhaps Allen would go to the practice squad and the team keep a sixth cornerback instead. Berhe is a special teams ace, so barring injury, he should be there when the smoke clears.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: The only mystery surrounding Boswell at this point is his looming contract extension and what the final numbers look like. He should be signing that in the coming weeks.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: How long will Matt Wile hold a training camp roster spot? Hard to see Berry losing out this year.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Canaday is currently the only long snapper under contract.
Summary: My final 53 ahead of the start of training camp looks very similar to my initial one that I released after the draft and that includes me having all seven draft picks sticking. That, as you should know by now, would really be a feat.
|Steelers 2018 53-Man Roster Prediction|