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Marczi: 2019 53-Man Roster Prediction – Post-First Preseason Game Edition

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Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (3) – Ben RoethlisbergerMason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs

Analysis: I wouldn’t expect to see any changes here throughout the process, but you never know. The Steelers did give Devlin Hodges a long look, but that probably means he won’t get another one until the final preseason game. I do think Rudolph will emerge as the backup.

Running Backs (3) – James ConnerJaylen SamuelsBenny Snell Jr.

Analysis: Again, another spot where I don’t anticipate seeing any changes. Snell had some rough spots, failing to beat a cornerback to the edge on one run, but he showed a lot of good things, including soft hands, blocking, and special teams versatility.

Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix

Analysis: Wake me up when this is ever worth delving into. Nix is the fullback.

Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-SchusterDonte MoncriefJames WashingtonDiontae JohnsonRyan SwitzerEli Rogers

Analysis: Some other names are looking to make things interesting, but at least at this stage of the game, I still see the final two roster spots going to Switzer and Rogers. Rogers barely even played in the first game because the team knows what he can do. Johnny Holton and Tevin Jones, I think, are the ones to watch.

Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonaldXavier GrimbleZach Gentry

Analysis: The first two are locked in. Christian Scotland-Williamson’s hamstring injury did him no favors, but Zach Gentry looked pretty solid in his debut, making a couple of nice catches. He also had a block or two, including on Holton’s long reception.

Offensive Linemen (9) – Maurkice PounceyDavid DeCastroRamon FosterAlejandro VillanuevaMatt Feiler, B.J. FinneyChukwuma OkoraforFred Johnson, Zach Banner

Analysis: Here is where we see some changes from the start of training camp. While Banner wasn’t part of the right tackle discussions, he’s had a nice preseason, and Fred Johnson has emerged as among the top of the backups along the interior. They seem to think he has position versatility, too, but that will take work. Jerald Hawkins is starting to come around now, but I think he’s on the outside looking in.

Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron HeywardStephon TuittJavon HargraveTyson AlualuDaniel McCullersIsaiah Buggs

Analysis: Buggs helped himself with a good showing against the Buccaneers. He proved to be a handful for the third-string offensive line and showed active hands. There was at least one instance in which he got his hands up to disrupt the passing lane, which you like to see.

Inside Linebackers (5) – Vince WilliamsDevin Bush, Mark Barron, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert III

Analysis: Here’s another change. From the first preseason game performance, Gilbert, the sixth-round pick, is starting to look like the player the team hoped Matthew Thomas would be a year ago. His range and finesse were both on display.

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

Analysis: Draft pick Sutton Smith didn’t even get into the game, but Tuzar Skipper did, and right now I would have the latter as the 54th player. I would really like to try to find a roster spot for him by the time this thing is all over, and that might mean stashing Fred Johnson on the practice squad.

Cornerbacks (6) – Joe HadenSteven NelsonMike HiltonArtie BurnsJustin LayneCameron Sutton

Analysis: Since training camp opened, Cameron Sutton has been among the most impressive players, elevating his status on the team. That makes just an ever so slight possibility that the team decides to move on from Burns, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

Safeties (4) – Sean DavisTerrell EdmundsMarcus AllenKameron Kelly

Analysis: Contrary to the first round of roster predictions, I did first look at Dave Bryan’s own prediction before I completed mine. We’ve really narrowed down on the same players, only with one distinction: I have Kameron Kelly beating out Jordan Dangerfield for a roster spot rather than Allen. I still think the team has a plan for Allen that they haven’t fully shown yet, but Kelly has clearly emerged as the number two free safety.

Specialists (3)

Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell

Analysis: I’m not sure this is even a two-man competition anymore. As long as Boswell doesn’t start shanking everything, he is going to be the kicker. And if he does, the kicker probably won’t be Matthew Wright.

Punter (1) – Jordan Berry

Analysis: Ian Berryman boomed a 66-yard punt, but it went into the end zone. Having a big leg is nice, but punting is largely about finesse. He averaged 44.5 yards on his two punts in the opener.

Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday

Analysis: There really isn’t even another holder who would seriously push Canaday. This is one of the safest spots on the roster.

Practice Squad (11)

Trey EdmundsTevin Jones, Johnny Holton, Derwin Gray, J.C. HassenauerChristian Scotland-WilliamsonLavon HooksJordan DangerfieldP.J. LockeTuzar Skipper, Sutton Smith

I’m about 90 percent certain that Jordan Dangerfield still has practice squad eligibility. He is a third-year player and has two accrued seasons on the practice squad. With wide receiver options emerging, they go back up to eight in total, with two here. Skipper is too good not to keep, and Smith has potential for the future, but needs to develop. One of the safeties or outside linebackers could lose his spot to an outside tight end.

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