Kozora: Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction (Post Buccaneers Game)

My first Pittsburgh Steelers roster prediction following their preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now that we have most of camp and that game under our belt, these predictions feel a lot more accurate. We’ll see how much they fluctuate the rest of the way.

If you missed it, here’s my previous prediction.

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs

Analysis: Devlin Hodges sure is making this battle interesting and there won’t be any final decisions made until the end of the preseason. Right now, I have Rudolph slightly ahead of Dobbs but again, there’s still an open battle. Really interesting to see how this plays out.

Running Backs (3) – James ConnerJaylen Samuels, Benny Snell

Analysis: Group pretty settled in. If anyone else on the roster is going to make noise, it’s Trey Edmunds, who has some relatively unique special teams ability. Still, them keeping four backs is hard to envision. Would probably require them keeping only eight offensive linemen. That’s possible but not terribly likely.

Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix

Analysis: Nix is locked in.

Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-SchusterDonte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer

Analysis: Going back to a little more “chalk” here. Johnny Holton was the toughest name I had to leave off the entire roster. Rogers lack of playing time versus Tampa Bay is a good sign for his chances while Switzer still has the kick/punt return card going for him. Diontae Spencer’s numbers actually looked good reflecting back on it but he’s gotta do more to make a serious push.

Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Christian Scotland-Williamson

Analysis: Being a little different here than Dave Bryan or Matthew Marczi just to shake things up a little bit. It was a bummer to see Scotland-Williamson leave the game with a hamstring injury but he still could be a better blocker than the very raw Zach Gentry. Hopefully CSW will be able to play this weekend or else his chances of staying on here take a major hit. His progression, aided by an unstoppable work ethic, has been impressive.

Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroRamon FosterAlejandro VillanuevaMatt Feiler, BJ Finney, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Fred Johnson

Analysis: Welcome to the 53, Zach Banner. Honestly, right now, an easy decision to make. He and Fred Johnson have been the two most impressive linemen to make the 53, edging out Derwin Gray, Jerald Hawkins, and Patrick Morris. Very strong depth here.

Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron HeywardStephon TuittJavon HargraveTyson AlualuIsaiah BuggsDaniel McCullers

Analysis: These six feel locked in even though Buggs is a 6th round rookie and McCullers earning the scorn of Steelers’ Nation for years. For Big Dan, much of that is founded correctly but his play has picked up the last two seasons and he’s having an excellent camp. He’s making the team.

Inside Linebackers (5) – Vince WilliamsMark Barron, Devin Bush, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert III

Analysis: Two dogs, one bone, between Gilbert III and Sutton Smith. Right now, UG3 is the one chewing away. Smith needs to get healthy – fast – and impress on special teams. Gilbert’s NFL debut was an awesome one.

Outside Linebackers (4) – Bud DupreeT.J. WattAnthony ChickilloOla Adeniyi

Analysis: Smith’s heading to the practice squad. After an impressive camp and Week One, there’s no way Adeniyi gets left off the 53. Only question will be what role the team will give him this year. Hopefully one where he’s playing rotational snaps.

Cornerbacks (6) –  Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike HiltonCameron Sutton, Artie Burns, Justin Layne

Analysis: I’ve finally gotten on board the Artie Burns train. Thank the team paying his $800K bonus and a strong camp, even if the latter has become par for the course. The sleeper names I’ve mentioned, Herb Waters and Alexander Myres, are no longer in the mix. That leaves only Brian Allen to truly push him and he hasn’t had a good enough camp to do it. Might be the end of the line with him.

Safeties (4) – Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Kameron Kelly

Analysis: One name I didn’t expect to leave off this list prior to camp was Marcus Allen. But he hasn’t taken a jump and bounced between second and third team. Dangerfield has more special teams value while Kelly is a better fit to be a backup free safety and flashed ball skills in practice.

Specialists (3)

Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell

Analysis: So far, Boswell having a good August. Matthew Wright is an accurate kicker but lacks the leg strength to challenge him. Unless Boswell implodes the rest of the way, he’s the guy in Week One. For better or worse.

Punter (1) – Jordan Berry

Analysis: Challenger Ian Berryman has a big leg, probably even bigger than Berry’s, but the fact Berry is more trustworthy when it comes to hangtime and placement makes him the better bet to stick.

Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday

Analysis: After avoiding a serious groin injury in camp, he’s secured as the starting long snapper. Of players who make the roster, Vance McDonald will be his backup. Should he land on the practice squad, Casey Sayles would be third string. Rookie TE Trevor Wood has done it too.

Practice Squad (10)

RB – Trey Edmunds
WR – Tevin Jones
TE – Zach Gentry
OG – Derwin Gray
C – Patrick Morris
DL – Henry Mondeaux
OLB – Sutton Smith
OLB – Tuzar Skipper
ILB – Robert Spillane
S – PJ Locke

Edmunds’ special teams value is nice to have here. Holton, again, is a tough cut but I have a feeling they want to keep Jones around. He’s come on strong after a quiet first week of camp. Could Holton be a trade candidate? Gray and Gentry make the practice squad while Morris had a good game against the Buccaneers. Mondeaux impressed too, Skipper is a great “stash” candidate on here, while Spillane impressed and Locke gives the team a 5th safety. Remember, only keeping ten on here because Scotland-Williamson is on the 53, not the practice squad.

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