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 already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
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 draft picks will make the 53-man roster in 2019?
The Steelers entered draft weekend with 10 selections. They ended up using nine, giving away their second-round pick, in addition to their third-round selection in 2020, to move up 10 spots in the first round to select Devin Bush. I have a good feeling he’s going to make the roster.
As you work further and further back into the draft, it becomes less and less assured that the draft picks will make the team, though. It would be a major upset if either Diontae Johnson or Justin Layne were not to make it. There are obvious holes for Benny Snell and Zach Gentry to slide into—and they wouldn’t have drafted Gentry if they weren’t comfortable with the idea of developing him.
The rest of the draft, from the sixth round on, will have a more difficult time making the roster, and the odds are that at least one or two will not make the team. The Steelers have never had every draft pick make the 53-man roster under Head Coach Mike Tomlin, though they have before retained every player in a class including the practice squad and injured reserve. That was the case most recently in 2016 before Travis Feeney was signed off the practice squad in December.
The sixth round saw the Steelers select two linebackers and a defensive lineman, adding an offensive lineman in the seventh. The latter, Derwin Gray, will have a hard time making the team simply because of how deep they already are, but his potential to kick inside will be an asset, as they have more depth at tackle.
Isaiah Buggs is another Karl Dunbar guy, but with more college production, and with a clear roster spot open, so I think he has a better than average chance. But Sutton Smith and Ulysees Grant III could potentially be competing for one roster spot. That doesn’t mean they can’t both make it. There’s an extra opening with the release of Jon Bostic.