With the 2020 NFL Draft now completed, it’s time for my to throw out my initial 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 likely be posted right before the team reports to training camp and after that one will come one after each and every preseason game.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch
Analysis: The first two Roethlisberger and Rudolph, are givens and that leaves the third and final spot up for grabs. It sure seems like Lynch received a lot of love from the Steelers brass late last season, so I suspect he has the inside shot at beating out Devlin Hodges and J.T. Barrett for the third spot. I fully expect the Steelers to carry three quarterbacks in 2020 following what happened last season when they tried to go with two.
Running Backs (4) – James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: Samuels is far from a lock right now with the addition of McFarland via the draft. That said, the Steelers would probably be wise to carry four running backs at all times in 2020. Samuels has some experience at the very least and can also be called upon to play a little on special teams.
Fullbacks (1) – Derek Watt
Analysis: Out goes Roosevelt Nix and in comes Watt via free agency. Barring an injury, Watt is as safe as safe can be as not only is he a fullback, he’s a special teams warrior as well much like Nix was.
Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Deon Cain, Saeed Blacknall
Analysis: I just can’t bring myself to put Ryan Switzer on this list of six right now. Outside of the first four on this list, the final one or two wide receiver spots seem to be wide open. Cain ended the 2019 season on the 53, so he gets one nod from me. The other spot I will give to the former XFLer, Blacknall, due to his ability to stretch the field. Once again, I am not married to these last two wide receivers.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry
Analysis: As we sit here in early May, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers tight end depth chart not shaking out to be these three. Ebron was signed via free agency, but he’s not much of a blocker. Neither was Gentry during his rookie season so hopefully he has improved in that area.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Stefen Wisniewski, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson
Analysis: These eight figure to be locks as we sit here in May. Additionally, with their essentially being two floating gameday spots every week of the season, the Steelers can probably get away with having a core group of eight on their initially 53-man roster.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley Isaiah Buggs, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: It sure seems like McCullers is destined to stay on the 53 again this year. The Steelers did draft defensive tackle Carlos Davis in the seventh-round this year and he appears to be the only one that might threaten McCullers’ roster spot. Davis goes to the practice squad in my initial offering, however.
Inside Linebackers (4) – Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysses Gilbert III, Robert Spillane
Analysis: Mark Barron and Tyler Matakevich are both now gone. Gilbert will return from injury in 2020 and try to pick up where he left off last season. As for Spillane, he could wind up being a core special teams player in 2020 with the Steelers losing a few of those this past offseason.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper, Alex Highsmith
Analysis: Anthony Chickillo is gone and in comes Highsmith, the team’s third-round draft pick who will likely spend a lot of his rookie season playing on special teams. Both Adeniyi and Skipper are far from locks right now, but both have inside tracks if the Steelers keep five outside linebackers in total.
Cornerbacks (6) – Joe Haden, Steve Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, Trajan Bandy
Analysis: The first five on this list sure seem like they are locks. The final one or two spots will be determined throughout the summer. Bandy is my sixth right now based only his ability and want to hit. He is a feisty cornerback that could potentially be the next Hilton. In the meantime, he might could cut his teeth on special teams.
Safeties (4) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr.
Analysis: The Steelers could really use a late free agent addition in this group during the remainder of the summer and especially one that can play free safety.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Barring an injury, Boswell is a lock after his 2019 bounce-back season.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: The Steelers now have two punters on their offseason roster but there’s currently no reason to think that Corliss Waitman will beat out Berry. If Berry flounders, the Steelers 2020 punter might wind up being somebody currently on another 90-man roster.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Hooray, another year and no long snapper was drafted.
Summary: I have five of the Steelers six draft picks from this year making the 53-man roster. Only eight offensive linemen are on this initial offering so I could accommodate an extra running back. The split offensively/defensively is 25/25 and the practice squad is also split at 6/6. An extra lineman or linebacker can easily be promoted from the practice squad for the gameday 55-man roster.
|Steelers 2020 53-Man Roster Prediction|
|Snell Jr., Benny||RB|
|Anthony McFarland Jr.||RB|
|Gilbert III, Ulysees||ILB|
|Brooks Jr., Antoine||S|
|Houston Jr., John||ILB|