The Pittsburgh Steelers will resume their 2018 training camp practices on Tuesday and with Monday being a day off for the team, I figured I would go ahead and take another stab at predicting the 53-man roster with the team’s first preseason game taking place on Thursday.
Normally, I do not release a prediction after the start of training camp and prior to the first preseason game, but I figured I would change that tradition up this year thanks to some great reports so far from Latrobe from our very own Alex Kozora.
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.
I promise that my next stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will not be posted until after the team’s first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles and after that, I promise one will come every week until the final cuts are made.
Previous versions are linked below:
Bryan: 2018 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Draft Edition
Bryan: 2018 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Offseason Practices Edition
Bryan: 2018 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Pre Training Camp Edition
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: It’s really hard to fathom that Joshua Dobbs will make the 53 barring any injuries. As much as I would like to sign him to the practice squad, it’s really hard to imagine the Steelers going that route with him at this juncture.
Running Backs (4) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Stevan Ridley, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: With Bell sitting out camp and the preseason once again, you have to wonder if Ridley might ultimately make the initial 53-man roster due to his experience. Head coach Mike Tomlin sure seems to like Ridley and while I’m not a big fan of the team keeping four running backs in total, I’m starting to really wonder if that might ultimately happen and especially with Samuels being a rookie and Conner still needing to prove he can make the jump in year-two.
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 (5) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter
Analysis: The Steelers re-signed wide receiver Eli Rogers just after I released my last 53-man prediction. Even so, I think it’s a good bet that he ultimately starts the regular season on the team’s Reserve/PUP list to finish up recuperating from his offseason ACL surgery. Assuming that happens, you have to still wonder if the Steelers will ultimately keep five or six healthy wide receivers on their 53-man roster. While Hunter isn’t a special teams asset, I am now resigned to the fact that Tomlin will keep him one more season. The same goes for Heyward-Bey, who is one of the team’s better special teamers. Keeping a sixth wide receiver such as Marcus Tucker or Damoun Patterson currently seems like a luxury at this point and especially when you consider that the former hasn’t quite lit up the start of training camp like many of us thought he might. Hey, Samuels might could play some slot wide receiver in a pinch, right?
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: Barring another injury at this position group, these three should ultimately be the three tight ends the Steelers keep this year. While the Steelers did recently sign Bucky Hodges after Ryan Malleck went down injured, it’s hard to carve out a spot on the 53-man roster for him as a fourth tight end and especially when you consider he’s not a asset on special teams. Because of that, I now have Hodges making it to the practice squad.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor
Analysis: Will it be 8 or 9 offensive linemen kept this year? That’s the question I still ask myself almost daily. After previously keeping nine in total on my 53, I will drop Rodgers this time around and watch carefully during the preseason to see if Feiler is allowed to play some right tackle in addition to both guard spots. All of this assumes that Foster will be ready to play come the start of the regular season. If he isn’t, then perhaps keeping a ninth needs to reconsidered and potentially one who can play guard. For now, I will tuck Jake Rodgers away on the practice squad.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Joshua Frazier
Analysis: According to our very own Alex Kozora, Daniel McCullers has been holding his own so far during training camp. Even if that’s true, I’m hoping that Frazier will ultimately able to win the sixth and final defensive line spot in the coming weeks.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, L.J. Fort, 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, is one of several players who really needs to stick out during the remainder of the preseason not only on defense, but on special teams as well. After previously leaving Fort of my 53-man roster, I’m adding him back on it this time around and especially due his play on special teams. If these five all end up sticking, thers a good chance Thomas starts the season on the inactive list.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Analysis: Four or five here? That’s a great question. I think Adams will be No. 4 or No. 5, at worst, come the start of the season and especially if he can contribute on special teams. We also still have a lot to learn about Adeniyi during the preseason and especially when it comes to his special team contributions. I just don’t like the feel of keeping only four outside linebackers so for now I will keep both of the young players in Adams and Adeniyi.
Cornerbacks (6) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Coty Sensabaugh
Analysis: It certainly seems like the first five in this group of six cornerbacks has been set in stone since January. However, you currently have to wonder right now just how safe Allen really is and if the more experienced Sensabaugh can beat him out for a spot on this year’s 53-man roster. I’m going to keep both Allen and Sensabaugh this time around but am definitely not ruling out the possibility of five only being kept. I’m sure me keeping Sensabaugh won’t be a popular decision with many of you.
Safeties (4) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds
Analysis: It’s starting to sound more like the Steelers are open to letting cornerbacks Sutton and Hilton get limited work at safety should an emergency situation arise during the season. Because of that, it seems like keeping five true safeties might end being a luxury a Steelers just don’t need to take partake in. Because of this, I am cutting rookie safety Marcus Allen and signing him to the practice squad.
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 still the only long snapper under contract.
Summary: My final 53 ahead of the start of the preseason now finally includes one of the team’s seven draft picks not making the cut and that lone player is Allen.
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