With the team’s 2019 training camp about to get underway at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe in a few more days, it’s time again for me to post another 2019 53-man roster prediction for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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 stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will be posted after the team’s first preseason game and after that, one will come every week until the final cuts are made.
My previous versions is linked below:
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: Not much to discuss here as the only real question at this point revolves around which of the two behind Roethlisberger ultimately wins the backup job. Barring any injuries, the fourth quarterback currently under contract, Devlin Hodges, isn’t likely to get very many snaps during the preseason as Dobbs and Rudolph both need to get as much playing time as possible in the four games.
Running Backs (3) – James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr.
Analysis: These three have been set in stone ever since Snell was drafted in the fourth-round. Conner really should need much preseason work so look for Samuels and Snell to get their fair share of snaps. A lot of people forget that Trey Edmunds ended the 2018 season on the 53-man roster. The only way he makes it to start the 2019 season will be because of injury or him thoroughly impressing special teams coordinator Danny Smith as a core player. Ralph Webb is also a very interesting and intriguing prospect we should see during the preseason and he could wind up on the practice squad with a strong exhibition showing.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Nix doesn’t play a lot of offensive snaps, but he certainly does stick out on special teams. He can lead block with the best of them as well when he is on the field with the offense.
Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers
Analysis: Would you bet your house on both Switzer and Rogers making the 53-man roster this year? I wouldn’t. Switzer’s saving grace is that he returns punts in addition to being a great short-yardage option out of the slot. He even lined up in the backfield occasionally last season. Rogers missed most of last season rehabbing his knee, but once he was activated from Reserve/PUP, he played quite a bit and even managed to log over 100 offensive snaps in the team’s final three games. A great preseason showing as return man by Diontae Spencer, who produced quite extensively the last three seasons in the CFL, might make him very tough to cut. I think he needs to win the return job out-right, however, to make the 53. For now, I’m sticking with both Switzer and Rogers but I won’t be surprised if one of those two miss the final cut. Tevin Jones and Trey Griffey are two carryovers from last season and there’s a good chance that one of the two ultimately lands on the practice squad. Maybe even both.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry
Analysis: Who will be the Steelers No. 3 tight end this year? Gentry is the favorite right now just because he was drafted this year in the fifth-round. We’ll see, however, if the former quarterback can run block well enough and if he can play a little bit on special teams during the preseason. After spending all of 2018 on the practice squad, one would think that former rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson will get a longer look during the upcoming preseason. It’s hard not root for him but the deck is still stacked against him. Is it possible that rookie undrafted free agent Trevor Wood might just be the best blocker currently behind McDonald and Grimble? Maybe. There’s a great chance the Steelers No. 3 tight end for 2019 is still not on the roster as well. Instead of leaving an unnamed spot behind McDonald and Grimble, I will go with Gentry still until further notice.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Fred Johnson, Zach Banner
Analysis: Most of these offensive linemen listed are obvious locks. In fact, I’ll the first seven should be considered locks, barring injury. Johnson, an undrafted free agent out of Florida, should have a great shot at making this year’s roster. Banner is my ninth selection but he’s far from a lock. If Jerald Hawkins can start camp healthy and remain that way, he could also challenge for a roster spot. As for the two former Maryland player’s Derwin Gray and Damian Prince, there’s a chance both wind up on the practice squad and especially if it’s determined that the former, the team’s seventh-round selection this year, is best-suited to play guard.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Daniel McCullers, Isaiah Buggs
Analysis: I’m rooting for Buggs to be the number six because of what he showed as a pass-rusher at Alabama. That said, he’s far from being considered a lock even though he was one of this year’s draft picks. The Steelers sure seem to like McCullers a lot more than I do, so that’s why I am sticking with him in this roster prediction. Keep an eye on Lavon Hooks during the preseason. He flashed at times a year ago and I bet he shows more again this year. Even so, he seems destined for the practice squad again this year.
Inside Linebackers (4) – Vince Williams, Mark Barron, Devin Bush, Tyler Matakevich
Analysis: After previously having rookie Ulysees Gilbert III on my last roster prediction, I’m leaving him off this one but do have him landing on the practice squad. I don’t want to see Matakevich play any defensive snaps in 2019, but I sure don’t mind him being kept on the 53 as a core special teams player. Him and Nix are great in that phase of the game. I can’t wait to see Bush get after during the preseason.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Sutton Smith
Analysis: The Smith fan club members can rejoice as I now have him on my 53 prediction. If Smith winds up being as good of a special teams player as most expect he’ll be, he should find himself on the 53. Smith might even lead the NFL in total preseason snaps played as he might just get a few offensive snaps at fullback in addition to playing quite a bit on defense and special teams. I have Tuzar Skipper, another MAC product, landing on the Steelers practice squad.
Cornerbacks (6) – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Justin Layne, Cameron Sutton
Analysis: Until the Steelers part ways with Burns is likely going to be on my 53. He’s due an $800,000 roster bonus a few days from now and there’s no sign he won’t get it. Layne, the team’s second of two third-round draft picks this year, is an obvious lock and it’s hard to imagine Sutton not making the 53 as well. Can a rookie undrafted free agent jump up and steal a spot? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened in the past.
Safeties (4) – Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen, Jordan Dangerfield
Analysis: I know better than to think that Dangerfield won’t be on the 53 this year. He’s a damn good special teams player and also has played well in the box in past limited regular season snaps. He’s so hard to cut. However, I am intrigued by two of the team’s rookie undrafted free agents, Dravon Askew-Henry and P.J. Locke. There’s also defensive back Kameron Kelly to consider as he has position flexibility.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: It’s going to be interesting next several weeks for Boswell as his spot is far from safe after a disastrous 2018. Even so, I will stick with him remaining in Pittsburgh for now.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Berry got a two-year deal this offseason and I think he’ll stick around for at least the 2019 season, albeit on a shorter leash.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Canaday is destined to be the Steelers long snapper again in 2019 as there’s nobody on the roster to even challenge him for his job this summer.
Practice Squad (11)
Trey Edmunds, Derwin Gray, Trey Griffey, Patrick Morris, Christian Scotland-Williamson, Lavon Hooks, Dravon Askew-Henry, Alexander Myres, Kameron Kelly, Ulysees Gilbert III, Tuzar Skipper
|Steelers 2019 53-Man Roster Prediction|
|Snell Jr., Benny||RB|
|Gilbert III, Ulysees||ILB|