The first training camp practice of the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers season kicks off tomorrow. So before we learn what’s actually going on, here’s my best guess of what the roster will look like Week One against Cleveland. We’ll update this after every preseason game.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Landry Jones
Analysis: We’ll see if Rudolph can beat Jones out for the #2 spot but here, I keep both. Before, I leaned towards Jones being removed from the roster but I think they’re going to value his IQ and mentorship, especially without a true QBs coach. Moreso than Dobbs potential backup value. That is, of course, if they don’t deal Jones for a 7th round pick by the end of camp.
Running Backs (4) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley
Analysis: I know keeping four running backs is unusual for this team but I just have a gut feeling they want to keep Ridley around and don’t want to part with Samuels out of the gate. That they like what Ridley offers as a runner and if something were to happen with Bell, would want him involved in the offense in some capacity. Because of how this roster is constructed, it allows them to keep a fourth back, a luxury in most scenarios.
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: I’m leaving this unchanged especially now it doesn’t look as likely Eli Rogers is brought back. I think they throw all the names at the wall and see what sticks. They have an obsession with Hunter’s height/weight/speed and Tucker is going to offer value in all areas of the game, from playing outside, to the slot, and on special teams. Big position to watch though.
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: Jake McGee would’ve made this interesting. Now, tight end is one of the most locked-in positions on the roster, unless someone gets hurt.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor
Analysis: I left Hawkins off last time prior to his injury. The eight from before remain, none really threatened to lose their job. A 9th will have to play their way onto the roster and I don’t love the odds of that happening.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Greg Gilmore
Analysis: Sticking to my guns from before since nothing has really changed to make me think otherwise. Gilmore grabs the 6th defensive line spot thanks to his better versatility than Joshua Frazier or Daniel McCullers. But we’ll see what happens. Situation is totally up in the air.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas, L.J. Fort
Analysis: Again, no changes from last time. I’m not as confident in Thomas as others, who are touting him as a super sleeper, but I think he’ll make some splashy plays in camp. It’s about controlling the negative ones and being a more consistent player.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams
Analysis: Man, you do these predictions and you realize how bleak the LB depth is. Had Arthur Moats on here before but it doesn’t look like he’s coming back. No one else on the roster I feel comfortable adding here until I see them in action.
Cornerbacks (5) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen
Analysis: Group feels locked in. Best chance for a change is if someone adds themselves to the roster but I don’t know who it would be. Coty Sensabaugh isn’t offering more than these five can.
Safeties (5) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen
Analysis: No changes here. Consider me a fan of Malik Golden but I’m not sure what his path to the 53 is. He’ll land on the practice squad.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Also duh.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Triple duh.
Practice Squad (11)
QB: Josh Dobbs
WR: Justin Thomas
TE: Christian Scotland-Williamson
OL: Patrick Morris, Jake Rodgers
DL: Joshua Frazier
OLB: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Farrington Huguenin
ILB: Keith Kelsey
CB: Trey Johnson
S: Malik Golden
Analysis: I think Dobbs can make it through to the practice squad. The bigger concern is if/when someone tries to poach him mid-season when injuries hit. But doesn’t hurt to hold onto him as long as you can. They’ve liked Thomas enough to keep him around and I can see potential there as a return man. Scotland-Williamson is the international exemption. Steelers keep two OLBs because there’s only four on the 53. Adeniyi gets a redshirt, Huguenin had a nice camp last season. Johnson and Golden are quality athletes.