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Marczi: Way-Too-Early 53-Man Roster Prediction

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges

Analysis: I don’t expect Paxton Lynch to suddenly not become a bust, no matter how many times Kevin Colbert fawns over his pedigree and arm. Hodges’s 2019 ended poorly, but he’s still ahead of where every other rookie quarterback the Steelers have drafted since Roethlisberger were at this point in his career.

Running Backs (4) – James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Samuels

Analysis: This does certainly feel like the year they have four running backs, doesn’t it? Despite his poor 2019, I think Samuels still sticks around as the receiving back and a special teamer. I think his early knee injury affected him more than people realize, because he wasn’t nearly as elusive.

Fullback (1) – Derek Watt

Analysis: Hopefully a fullback we don’t have to worry about.

Wide Receivers (5) –  JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer

Analysis: I can easily see six wide receivers making it, but Deon Cain’s redundancy with Claypool and lack of special teams ability means he loses out, though he can make the practice squad.

Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry

Analysis: This is an easy call, because there really aren’t any other options.

Offensive Line (9) – Alejandro Villanueva, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Feiler, Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Dotson, Derwin Gray

Analysis: Slapping Derwin Gray on here is probably the thing I’m most hesitant about, but I like his versatility and the fact that he recently talked about how he needed a redshirt year. He could be a nice sleeper this year as a rising player.

Defense (25)

Defensive Line (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Tyson Alualu, Daniel McCullers

Analysis: I can’t tell you the last time the Steelers have had every draft pick make the roster. Even with only six picks this year, I’m guessing Carlos Davis is the one who doesn’t make it. One of these guys is going to have to play some tackle, though. Or they’ll play a lot of nickel and dime this year.

Outside Linebackers (5) – T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper

Analysis: Even though they played musical chairs with Tuzar Skipper, I think he comes back and makes the team. This time they’ll actually let him earn his keep on special teams.

Inside Linebackers (4) – Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane

Analysis: Sure would like to have more depth here, and maybe somebody like John Houston will emerge. I am intrigued by what Gilbert can offer defensively, while Spillane is the new Tyler Matter Cabbage.

Cornerbacks (5) – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton, Justin Layne

Analysis: Way too early on for me to be expecting any undrafted free agents to make the team. I think this is about as strong a group they’ve had at the position in a decade or more.

Safeties (5) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Marcus Allen, Antoine Brooks Jr.

Analysis: Brooks’ special teams ability makes him a lock. Allen might be player number 52 or 53 on the roster, truth be told. Maybe 54. We’ll see. Mike Tomlin did say that he saw growth from him while he was on the practice squad.

Special Teams (3)

Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell

Analysis: This position was way more uncertain at this time last year. Now it’s only the season itself that has an uncertain future. What a relief.

Punter (1) – Jordan Berry

Analysis: A crappy finish to the year, which was otherwise fine. I’m not going to knock him for not hearing the waving off of a fake punt. Plus I don’t see much competition.

Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday

Analysis: The new Greg Warren, only not as reliable.

On a general note: too many variables right now for me to want to play musical chairs with a practice squad, but guys that I see being included right now: Paxton Lynch (since there are 12 spots now), Deon Cain, J.C. Hassenauer, Carlos Davis, Kevin Rader, Trajan Bandy, Henry Mondeaux. I would like to include Kerrith Whyte, but I’m not sure the Steelers would bother if he doesn’t make the team.

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