We are quickly going to get an answer to these questions but before we head down to Pittsburgh Steelers training camp beginning this Thursday, I wanted to take my best guess as the Day One depth chart you’ll see the team roll with.
So below is my guess for how things will initially look for that first practice. Remember that the Steelers often start things out on a seniority/tenure basis and that the pecking order can quickly change. Also important to keep in mind players can mix and match and many are moved around, not left in one static spot for the entire camp. Injuries and days off can dramatically change things too.
Below are my assumptions of how things will shake out.
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team||4th Team|
|Ben Roethlisberger||Landry Jones||Mason Rudolph||Josh Dobbs|
Not much of a shock here. It’s a question of if Rudolph can jump up to the #2 spot but that certainly won’t happen right away. Dobbs is definitely in a tough spot if this is how things shake up.
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team||4th Team||5th Team||6th Team|
|James Conner||Fitzgerald Toussaint||Jaylen Samuels||Stevan Ridley||Jarvion Franklin||James Summers|
Important to remember this is day one and I wouldn’t expect Toussaint to be the #2 for long. But his veteran status on the team gives him the early nod until Samuels proves himself in Latrobe. Samuels will get plenty involved in the passing game, anyway. Franklin as a 5th stringer is going to make things that much tougher for him though for his sake, at least Le’Veon Bell isn’t there, and injuries will happen quicker with this group than most.
|1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team||4th Team||5th Team||6th Team|
|Vance McDonald||Jesse James||Xavier Grimble||Ryan Malleck||Pharoah McKever||Christian Scotland-Williamson|
Only real debate in my mind is between Malleck and McKever for the #4 spot. Malleck has more experience and McKever is a raw player. Tight ends can make it hard to have a true pecking order since you’ll get two or three on the field at a time. Puts in perspective how far down the depth chart Scotland-Williamson is and how tough it is for a raw player to get reps and get better.
|1st Team||Antonio Brown||Justin Hunter||JuJu Smith-Schuster|
|2nd Team||Darrius Heyward-Bey||James Washington||Marcus Tucker|
|3rd Team||Tevin Jones||Trey Griffey||Quadree Henderson|
|4th Team||Damoun Patterson||Trey Griffey||Justin Thomas|
Similar to TE, WRs mix and match plenty so a depth chart doesn’t always work out cleanly. I expect Smith-Schuster to be the starting “Z” in two receiver sets and kick inside when there’s 3 of them on the field. Washington can hopefully pass Hunter up but he’ll have to earn that like any other rookie.
Curious to see if Tucker sees action inside and out or if this year is dedicated to the slot, given how thin they are there, heightened if Eli Rogers signs somewhere else. I didn’t have a 4th team Z receiver so Griffey doubles up there.
|1st Team||Alejandro Villanueva||Ramon Foster||Maurkice Pouncey||David DeCastro||Marcus Gilbert|
|2nd Team||Chukwuma Okorafor||Patrick Morris||B.J. Finney||Matt Feiler||Bryce Harris|
|3rd Team||Jake Rodgers||Chris Schlueger||Parker Collins||Larson Graham||R.J. Prince|
It’ll be interesting to see who runs second-team center, Finney or Morris, but I think there’s more trust in Finney and he probably needs more work there than guard. Third-team gets pretty hard to decipher. Collins best spot is left guard but I didn’t see anyone else on the line with much of a resume at center. Graham has reportedly been working at guard during the spring so I kicked Prince out to tackle, even though I think his better home comes on the interior. OT Joseph Cheek is the odd man out in this scenario but with how many off days you get from this group, Foster and Pouncey lead that, he’ll fit in somewhere.
|1st Team||Stephon Tuitt||Javon Hargrave||Cam Heyward|
|2nd Team||Tyson Alualu||Daniel McCullers||L.T. Walton|
|3rd Team||Greg Gilmore||Joshua Frazier||Lavon Hooks|
|4th Team||Parker Cothren||Kendal Vickers||Casey Sayles|
Second-team nose tackle is a little tricky to figure out. Walton is going to rotate in there but for starters, he’s going to get his reps at defensive end. McCullers gets the veteran nod over Frazier but that could change in a hurry with how things have gone historically.
There generally isn’t a “4th team” for practice but I had enough names to make a list. Those guys usually end up being rotational pieces in sub-packages, think Nelson Adams last year, and have to hope for an injury to get some serious time. Vickers play a lot of end/3 tech at Tennessee but he’s best to fit at nose in the NFL.
|1st Team||T.J. Watt||Bud Dupree|
|2nd Team||Anthony Chickillo||Keion Adams|
|3rd Team||Ola Adeniyi||Farrington Huguenin|
This one felt like one of the easier depth charts to figure out. Adams and Chick could flip, ditto with Adeniyi and Huguenin, but I think these will be the groups. Darnell Leslie is currently the odd man out and unfortunately for him, there won’t be as many veteran days off with this group as there’s been in the past.
|1st Team||Tyler Matakevich||Vince Williams|
|2nd Team||L.J. Fort||Jon Bostic|
|3rd Team||Matthew Thomas||Keith Kelsey|
Again, feels a little easier here. I think I’ve even read Bostic has played the Buck spot in OTAs. Makes sense since Fort is a Mack. Matt Galambos is left off the depth chart, narrowly losing out to Kelsey.
|1st Team||Joe Haden||Artie Burns||Mike Hilton|
|2nd Team||Coty Sensabaugh||Brian Allen||Cam Sutton|
|3rd Team||Jamar Summers||Trey Johnson||Dashaun Phillips|
Similar to WR, guys mix and match and a depth chart rarely breaks clean. Cam Sutton is especially going to be a “floater” at cornerback but with slot depth thin and no one else aside from Hilton able to do it, he needs the reps there. I’m interested in learning more about Phillips after the team traded for him late last preseason.
|1st Team||Sean Davis||Morgan Burnett|
|2nd Team||Jordan Dangerfield||Terrell Edmunds|
|3rd Team||Nat Berhe||Marcus Allen|
I do expect Davis to ultimately be the starting FS, even if I don’t love the idea. Dangerfield was elevated to 1st team in the spring when Burnett missed a day or two and his veteran status and time in the system gives him a brief boost, even if he is outside looking in on most 53 man rosters.
Lot of strong safety types on the roster, that’s for sure. I did keep Edmunds at strong because I think in dime packages, that’s where he’s going to play, with Davis in centerfield and Burnett rotating down to replace Vince Williams. Malik Golden is currently the odd man out left of this group of six.
There isn’t much of a depth chart for the specialists because there’s only four on the roster and the starting spots are all locked up: kicker Chris Boswell, punter Jordan Berry, long snapper Kameron Canaday. The only other name here is Matt Wile. He’s interesting because I assume, based on roster construction and his background, he’ll be responsible for being the backup kicker and punter. Something I don’t recall seeing in camp before with the Steelers but it’s a good way to save a roster spot.