With us now past what would have been the Pittsburgh Steelers fourth of five preseason games had they not been wiped out by the pandemic, it’s time for my to throw out another 53-man roster prediction for the team. This is my third offering since the 2020 NFL Draft took place and my second since the new pandemic rules were agreed upon.
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. A 16-man practice squad is now included and that’s up from the previous 12-man unit it originally looked like teams would have in 2020.
My next and final stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will be posted less than a week from now. Happy Saturday to all.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges
Analysis: Paxton Lynch didn’t receive any reps during the team’s Friday night game-like practice and that can’t be a good thing and especially with Roethlisberger being done early. The Steelers brass talked up Lynch during the offseason, but it doesn’t sound like he’s threatened for a roster spot per the brief practice report blurbs. It’s time for me to make a switch to Hodges as the No. 3 as the Lynch train ride seems to be over.
Running Backs (4) – James Conner, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: I thought that Wendell Smallwood might threaten Samuels for his spot but it doesn’t sound like such a turn of events has taken place. On top of that, Smallwood missed a few practices with an injury and that’s certainly not going to help his cause. I thought about putting Smallwood on the practice squad but there might be a team that decides to add him to their 53 if cut by the Steelers. Instead, I kept Kerrith Whyte Jr. on the practice squad.
Fullbacks (1) – Derek Watt
Analysis: No change here for obvious reasons. It’s all Watt, who has reportedly been limited throughout camp as a result of him having some sort of offseason surgery.
Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: Can McCloud really go from off the street to the Steelers 53-man roster so late in the process? It certainly sounds like he’s been doing some good things since he arrived and especially in the return department. With Switzer currently banged up with a foot injury and none of the other wide receivers seemingly making noises, maybe McCloud can sneak in and grab a sixth and final wide receiver spot. I jettisoned Deon Cain to the practice squad make room for McCloud.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry
Analysis: There’s no reason to change this group up for obvious reasons. Additionally, it certainly sounds like Kevin Rader might be destined to make the practice squad again. I think I saw Rader even lined up one snap as a fullback Friday night.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Stefen Wisniewski, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson
Analysis: These eight still stand in place. I obviously don’t yet know the status of DeCastro following him suffering some sort of injury Friday night so hopefully it’s not serious. If it is serious, it would obviously alter this group by one player. Perhaps Derwin Gray would be the next man up.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley Isaiah Buggs, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: Not altering this group for obvious reasons. The Steelers did draft defensive tackle Carlos Davis in the seventh-round this year and he’ll likely land on the practice squad. McCullers sure seems like he’s going to survive.
Inside Linebackers (4) – Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysses Gilbert III, Robert Spillane
Analysis: These four inside linebackers are the only ones on the 80-man roster right now. Here’s to them all stating healthy this final week.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Alex Highsmith, Jayrone Elliott
Analysis: Could Elliott be another late addition who winds up stealing a spot? It sure sounds like it might be possible as Tuzar Skipper might not be making the kind of progress everyone hoped for. Elliott can play on special teams and dressed for multiple games last season. I have a sneaky feeling he might steal a spot and that Skipper might land on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks (5) – Joe Haden, Steve Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne,
Analysis: These five sound like the five with James Pierre likely being close and thus a slam dunk to make the practice squad. Sure haven’t heard much about Layne the last few weeks.
Safeties (5) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Curtis Riley, Marcus Allen
Analysis: It sure sounds like Allen’s ability to play safety and inside linebacker has the coaches happy with his progress. Riley should make the roster as well. That would likely leave Antoine Brooks Jr., one of this year’s draft picks, on the outside and looking in from the practice squad.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Boswell is as safe as ever.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Corliss Waitman looks like he might make it all the way through training camp. If he does, he might land on the practice squad in case Boswell and Berry were to get COVID-19.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Canaday is dealing with a knee injury right now and hopefully he’ll be ready for the opener.
Summary: Several, several changes this time around and based only on participation reports and flimsy pool reports. Newcomers to this 53-man roster include Hodges, Samuels, McCloud, Elliott, and Allen. Overreaction? You bet your ass it likely is but what do we have to go on this year with no camp practices in Latrobe? I have two draft picks, Brooks and Davis, not making the 53 but both landing on the practice squad.
|Steelers 2020 53-Man Roster Prediction|
|Snell Jr., Benny||RB|
|Anthony McFarland Jr.||RB|
|Gilbert III, Ulysees||ILB|
|Whyte Jr., Kerrith||RB|
|Brooks Jr., Antoine||S|