Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Final Edition

With the Pittsburgh Steelers fourth and final preseason game of 2021 now behind us and the team’s initial 53-man roster due by 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, it’s time for me to submit my final 53-man roster prediction for the team for this year along with a 16-man practice squad prediction.

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 final 53-man roster prediction for 2021.

There are a few more changes in this final one compared to my last offering from just a few days ago, which I released after the team’s third preseason game.

Below are all of my stabs at the Steelers 53-man roster that I have submitted on the site throughout the offseason.

Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Draft Edition
Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Pre Training Camp Edition
Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Preseason Game 1 Edition
Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Preseason Game 2 Edition
Bryan: 2021 Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post Preseason Game 3 Edition

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (3) — Ben RoethlisbergerMason RudolphDwayne Haskins

Analysis: As expected, Haskins could not overtake Rudolph. Haskins should likely be the No. 3, however, and it will be interesting to see if Joshua Dobbs is asked to be on be practice squad due to COVID concerns.

Running Backs (4) – Najee HarrisBenny Snell Jr.Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage

Analysis: Did Snell do enough in the preseason to make the 53-man roster once again? I think so. Head coach Mike Tomlin called him varsity before the preseason finale as well. If the Steelers keep just three running backs and a fullback, personally, I would keep Snell over Ballage. We’ll see which way this plays out but I think four running backs should be kept.

Fullbacks (1) – Derek Watt

Analysis: Watt should be healthy and ready to go for Week 1. He’s a core special teams player to boot. They need him to contribute more in 2021 than he did in 2020.

Wide Receivers (5) – JuJu Smith-SchusterDiontae Johnson, Chase ClaypoolJames Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud

Analysis: Mathew Sexton could not overtake McCloud in the final preseason game so the latter should make the roster by default as a returner.

Tight Ends (3) – Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Analysis: I have gone back and forth on the third tight end spot as I can see it going either way with Gentry and Kevin Rader. It sure seems like the team wants Gentry to win the spot based on rotation so that’s the way I will end. Rader sure still seemed to be the better all-around option, however.

Offensive Linemen (9) – Trai Turner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore Jr., J.C. Hassenauer, B.J. Finney

Analysis: I just can’t Rashaad Coward on the 53-man roster ahead of B.J. Finney. Finney also played ahead of Coward in the last few preseason games. If the Steelers decide to keep just nine offensive linemen in total, Coward can probably clear waivers and make it to the practice squad. Is there really a need to keep 10 in total? Could a veteran center still possibly be on the way as well?

Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron HeywardStephon TuittTyson AlualuChris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk

Analysis: These six have been the six for quite some time but one could easily make an argument for a seventh to be kept and especially with Tuitt not yet being up and running. Henry Mondeaux and Isaiah Buggs both maybe can land on the the practice squad and thus easily be elevated to the roster for games. Loudermilk should stick but only dress in case of an emergency as the season goes on. I picked Davis over Buggs just barely, by the way. The Steelers have a very nice group of defensive lineman to choose from.

Inside Linebackers (5)Joe Schobert, Devin BushRobert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen

Analysis: Allen suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason finale and I’m going to assume he’ll be ready for Week 1. I have Ulysees Gilbert III going to the practice squad almost by default. He’s another player that can easily be elevated should the need arise.

Outside Linebackers (4) – T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Jamir Jones

Analysis: Did Jones do enough to kick Cassius Marsh off the roster? I think so. Jones did show up on special teams in the preseason and he also played quite a few defensive snaps and on both sides of the defense. If Marsh is kept on the 53, blame it all on special teams coordinator Danny Smith. I have rookie Quincy Roche still going to the practice squad.

Cornerbacks (6) – Joe HadenCameron Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, Mark Gilbert

Analysis: With Antoine Brooks Jr. now on the team’s Reserve/Injured list and rookie Shakur Brown fading down the stretch, it really makes you wonder if the team will add a slot player in the next few weeks. It’s hard to come up with six in total here so I suppose I will make the rookie Gilbert my sixth as he has flashed a few times and seems capable of playing on special teams.

Safeties (4) – Minkah FitzpatrickTerrell EdmundsMiles Killebrew, Tre Norwood

Analysis: This group really needs another addition and one that can play free safety and special teams. I think Norwood is a lock but this team sure could use at least one more defensive back not currently under contract and possibly even two more.

Specialists (3)

Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell

Analysis: Boswell is it.

Punter (1) – Pressley Harvin III

Analysis: I still have the rookie Harvin over the veteran Jordan Berry but this was a close summer battle just the same. Maybe the Steelers can deal Berry away for a seventh round pick in the next few days.

Long Snapper (1) – Christian Kuntz

Analysis: Did Kuntz do enough to overtake Kameron Canaday? I think there’s a good chance. the fact that Kuntz was not let go on Saturday also plays in his favor. Maybe the Steelers can trade Canaday for a seventh.

Summary: I only have one of the team’s 2021 draft picks not making the 53-man roster and it’s Roche. I also have just one undrafted free agent rookie making the roster in Gilbert. Changes in my final prediction include Jones over Marsh, and Gilbert over Brown. That also resulted in my practice squad being shuffled just a bit with Jaylen Samuels and Jamar Watson being new additions.

Steelers 2021 53-Man Roster Prediction 8/29/21
Roethlisberger, Ben QB
Rudolph, Mason QB
Haskins, Dwayne QB
Harris, Najee RB
Snell Jr., Benny RB
McFarland Jr., Anthony RB
Ballage, Kalen RB
Watt, Derek FB
Smith-Schuster, JuJu WR
Washington, James WR
Johnson, Diontae WR
Claypool, Chase WR
McCloud, Ray-Ray WR
Ebron, Eric TE
Freiermuth, Pat TE
Gentry, Zach TE
Turner, Trai G
Dotson, Kevin G
Okorafor, Chukwuma T
Banner, Zach T
Hassenauer, J.C. C/G
Green, Kendrick C
Moore, Jr., Dan T
Haeg, Joe T/G
Finney, B.J. G/C
Heyward, Cameron DT/DE
Tuitt, Stephon DE
Alualu, Tyson DT
Wormley, Chris DE
Davis, Carlos DT
Loudermilk, Isaiahh DE
Watt, T.J. OLB
Highsmith, Alex OLB
Ingram, Melvin OLB
Jones, Jamir OLB
Schobert, Joe ILB
Bush, Devin ILB
Spillane, Robert ILB
Johnson, Buddy ILB
Allen, Marcus ILB
Haden, Joe CB
Sutton, Cameron CB
Pierre, James CB
Layne, Justin CB
Maulet, Arthur CB
Gilbert, Mark CB
Fitzpatrick, Minkah S
Edmunds, Terrell S
Killebrew, Miles S
Norwood, Trey S
Boswell, Chris K
Harvin III, Pressley P
Kuntz, Christian LS
Green, Chaz T
White, Cody WR
Rader, Kevin TE
Sexton, Mathew WR
Samuels, Jaylen RB
Dobbs, Joshua QB
Coward, Rashaad G/T
Edmunds, Trey FB
Brown, Shakur CB
Pitts, Lafayette CB
Stiner, Donavan S
Mondeaux, Henry DE/DT
Roche, Quincy OLB
Buggs, Isaiah DE/DT
Gilbert III, Ulysees ILB
Watson, Jamar OLB
Brooks Jr., Antoine DB
Christmas, Demarcus DT
Acy, DeMarkus CB
Haskins, Dwayne QB
Loudermilk, Isaiahh DE
Ballage, Kalen RB
Haeg, Joe T/G
Gilbert, Mark CB
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