The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their fourth and final preseason game of 2018 Thursday night and at home against the Carolina Panthers so it’s now time for me to take another stab at predicting the 53-man roster.
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 guesstimate at the Steelers 53-man roster will be posted on Friday before the team makes their final cuts on Saturday.
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
Bryan: 2018 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Pre Preseason Game 1 Edition
Bryan: 2018 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Pre Preseason Game 3 Edition
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: At this point I think the only mystery related to this position is if the Steelers can find a team interested in trading for fourth quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who will start Thursday night against the Panthers.
Running Backs (3) – James Conner, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: Come Saturday night, Le’Veon Bell will likely be on the Reserve/Exempt list just as he was a year ago and that will essentially give the Steelers a 54-man roster to work with until the following Saturday. Because of that, I have the Steelers keeping both Toussaint and the rookie Samuels initially. Toussaint is still more of an asset than Samuels is right now and especially when it comes to pass protection and special teams play.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Nix looked like his usual self against the Titans so here is to him sitting out Thursday night against the Panthers.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Ryan Switzer
Analysis: Wide receiver Eli Rogers will start the regular season on the team’s Reserve/PUP list to finish up recuperating from his offseason ACL surgery and the team traded for Switzer this past week to be their returner and backup slot wide receiver. Young wide receivers Marcus Tucker and Damoun Patterson both seem to be out of the picture and Hunter seems to be back in it. He’s the tallest wide receiver in the roster and no way Roethlisberger lets the coaches cut him.
Tight Ends (3) – Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: All three of these tight ends are likely to sit out Thursday with injuries. James is obviously the less injured of the three while McDonald and Grimble are both expected to be ready for Week 1. I have Bucky Hodges going to the practice squad.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner
Analysis: Here is to this group of eight all making it through Thursday night healthy. Several of them aren’t likely to play. I have Banner as making it initially to the 53 to protect him because of his pedigree.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: Rookie draft pick Joshua Frazier never even challenged for a spot while McCullers stood tall during training camp and the preseason. No reason to think that this six won’t be the six.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, L.J. Fort, Matthew Thomas
Analysis: Obviously Thomas is going to make it this year as an undrafted free agent and I’m not so sure that Fort will be cut. He’s still a very productive player on special teams and that might result in him getting a helmet over Thomas to start the regular season.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams
Analysis: As much as I like Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, I think he can ultimately clear waivers and make it to the practice squad. Adams is the more athletic and experienced of the two and probably the better asset to have on special teams as well.
Cornerbacks (6) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Coty Sensabaugh
Analysis: Hilton is still a little dinged up right now and that’s concerning. It really makes a lot of sense to keep six cornerbacks in total to start the season with Sensabaugh being one of them.
Safeties (4) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds
Analysis: Rookie Marcus Allen has missed a lot of time during the preseason and training camp and that’s likely to hurt him. He should easily be able to pass through waivers and get to the practice squad.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: He got his new contract a few weeks ago and might get a new holder this season as well.
Punter (1) – Matt Wile
Analysis: I will go out on a limb this time around and predict that Wile will unseat incumbent Jordan Berry in the preseason finale.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: So far, so good. He really gets down the field quick for a long snapper.
Extra Lists (7) – Bell, Rogers, Ryan Shazier, Jerald Hawkins, Jake McGee, Trey Johnson, Ryan Malleck
Summary: The running back and linebacker positions are really the only two groups that I struggle with confidence in as far as the final numbers go at this point.
Week 1 Inactives: Rudolph, Washington, Banner, Sensabaugh, McCullers, Feiler, Thomas
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