The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How many rookies will make the opening-day roster?
The Steelers added seven rookies through the draft and a slew of others as college free agents. For the past two seasons, they have not had any undrafted rookies make the team, but this year looks to be different. They have also never had all of their draft picks make the roster either, and that surely will not be changing this time around, as Joshua Frazier may struggle to even make the practice squad.
Then again, the Steelers kept Kelvin Beachum as a seventh-round rookie back in 2012 even though he had a terrible preseason.
But anyway, it’s not going to be long now before we know how the Steelers’ initial 53-man roster takes shape. It’s almost an inevitability that there will be some changes made over the coming days, but let’s get our predictions in now before the cuts have been made.
Remember, rookies and first-year players are not the same thing.
Personally, I see seven rookies in total making the team, including five draft picks. Terrell Edmunds, James Washington, Mason Rudolph, and Chukwuma Okorafor are all no-brainers, all draft picks on the first two days.
The other three draft picks are all vulnerable, and I at the moment I see only Jaylen Samuels making the team. Frazier did not show much of anything in the preseason while Daniel McCullers and Lavon Hooks have. Marcus Allen spent too much time injured to be assured a roster spot, but I would have him as the 54th man right now.
Then we have the two undrafted rookie linebackers. Matthew Thomas is a lock. I think Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is close to one. I would be surprised and disappointed if he does not make the 53-man roster unless his injury is something relatively serious and he gets waived/injured.
I have three rookies making the practice squad as well. I don’t expect Frazier to make it, but Allen will, and I also believe wide receiver Damoun Patterson (pending his injury) and offensive lineman R.J. Prince will land spots as well. Both of the latter two were rookie minicamp tryout players.