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Kozora: Steelers Roster Prediction (Post Titans Game)

My updated Pittsburgh Steelers roster prediction following Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. Just one more version of this before final cutdowns that will come quickly following Thursday’s finale against the Carolina Panthers. I am making a couple changes here from before that are worth checking out.

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

Offense (25)

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

Analysis: Everything basically the same as it was a week ago. Rudolph feels pretty close to locked in as the #2 and Dobbs is still secure enough as the #3, though this last game could change that. But he’s ahead of Devlin Hodges right now.

Running Backs (4) – James ConnerJaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Benny Snell

Analysis: Dave Bryan removed Edmunds from his prediction this week so let me be the one who keeps him around. Snell has done well but Edmunds is the slightly better special teamer and more trusted in pass protection if he ever had to see the field. Snell reverts to a gameday active until maybe a little later in the year. Good competition for both to stay hungry.

Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix

Analysis: Nix, one of the team’s top special teamers, is in no danger of losing his spot.

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

Analysis: It would take something compelling for Johnny Holton or Diontae Spencer to make the team. Both have had their moments and Spencer is especially interesting but unless there’s a trade, it’s hard to see either make it. Neither have been consistently explosive or valuable. Keeping the more known talent and Switzer/Rogers are capable of wearing multiple hats, especially Switz.

Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry

Analysis: If anyone from the current roster will be the team’s #3 tight end, it’s Gentry. Possible the team brings in someone from the outside but there hasn’t been any movement yet. If it happens, it’ll go down within the next few days. Gentry being healthy enough to play Sunday was big for him.

Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroRamon FosterAlejandro VillanuevaMatt FeilerBJ Finney, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner

Analysis: Change here. Removing Fred Johnson from the 53. I like him and his future has promise but plenty of eventual mainstays on the Steelers’ 53 began their career on the practice squad. Alejandro Villanueva, Chris Hubbard, Matt Feiler, and BJ Finney are all examples of that. His performance through the first three weeks hasn’t been great either and he’s clearly still raw as a prospect. Seven are only going to be active on gameday anyway and Johnson is a Saturday call-up away from rejoining the main roster. This opens up a spot for Edmunds.

 Defense (25)

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

Analysis: Status quo for this group, one that feels as locked in as any position.

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

Analysis: Everything remaining the same here. Williams, Barron, Bush will all see action on defense with Matakevich and UG3 on special teams duty.

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

Analysis: Tuzar Skipper keeps impressing but there’s simply no room for him here and his lack of STs value really hurts his chances. Only path I see is if Adeniyi gets sent to IR to return to begin the year. He’s still much more likely to just be inactive for the first week or two. Putting him on IR effectively wipes out his season.

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

Analysis: Funny enough, cornerback might be the 2nd most “locked in” group behind the defensive line. Sutton could see a role in multiple ways (slot corner, dime defender) while Burns is a top backup on the outside. Layne, if active, will probably be a starting gunner.

Safeties (4) – Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Kameron Kelly, Marcus Allen 

Analysis: Tweak that “99% chance Kameron Kelly makes it” I wrote last week and bump it to 100%. He’ll not only be on the 53 but have a significant role in the defense versus 12 personnel and dime packages. The switch here is Marcus Allen clawing him way back onto the roster with a couple good performances, he’s forced two fumbles already, and playing over Jordan Dangerfield last week.

With Edmunds on my 53, he can take Danger’s spot as the PP on the punt team. And Allen is a good special teamer and strong tackler in his own right.

Specialists (3)

Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell

Analysis: Provided he doesn’t implode in the finale, he’s the dude Week One. Pass Go, collect your $2 million roster bonus.

Punter (1) – Jordan Berry

Analysis: No reason to assume a change here unless the team does something bold outside the organization.

Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday

Analysis: Canaday has always been a lock here.

Game Day Inactives (7)

QB Josh Dobbs
RB Benny Snell
WR Diontae Johnson
OT Zach Banner
DL Isaiah Buggs
OLB Ola Adeniyi (injury)
CB Justin Layne

Practice Squad (11)

QB – Devlin Hodges
WR – Johnny Holton, Tevin Jones
TE – Christian Scotland-Williamson
OL – Derwin Gray, Fred Johnson
DL – Henry Mondeaux
OLB – Tuzar Skipper
ILB – Robert Spillane
S – Jordan Dangerfield, Dravon Askew-Henry

Analysis: Some more changes here. Once we knew Holton still had eligibility, he was a pretty easy choice to keep. Think the team still likes Tevin Jones. CSW is exempt, Johnson lands back on the 53 with Gray.

No Sutton Smith? I know, a little “out there.” But aside from being a 6th round pick, what has he done? Maybe he shines in the finale. But 6th rounders are never on scholarship. If the Steelers can burn a 6th rounder on a long snapper and have the gonads to cut him, as they did with Colin Holba in 2017, no one is safe.

Dangerfield, somehow, remains eligible while Askew-Henry can play safety or slot, which is nice to have at the bottom of your roster.

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