With the Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game of 2021 now behind us and their second one on tap for Thursday night, it’s time for me to update my initial 53-man roster prediction for the team 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 53-man roster prediction.
there are not many changes in this one from my last offering, which I released right before training camp got underway.
My next stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will likely be posted right before the third first preseason game.
Quarterbacks (3) — Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
Analysis: No reason to change this three so far this summer. We’ll see how Rudolph, Haskins and Joshua Dobbs all play Thursday night against the Eagles.
Running Backs (4) – Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage
Analysis: These were my same four running backs in my last roster prediction. It is sad that both Snell and Ballage are likely to miss the Thursday game with injuries.
Fullbacks (1) – Derek Watt
Analysis: No change here, either, and for obvious reasons. Maybe the Steelers will use their fullback a little more in 2021 than they did in 2020. Hopefully this Watt brother can stay healthy as well.
Wide Receivers (5) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: No changes with this five. The real battle is for which wide receivers will be kept on the practice squad. Maybe we will see some separation in that bottom group on Thursday night.
Tight Ends (3) – Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Kevin Rader
Analysis: Rader had a real nice first preseason game, and he remains my frontrunner to beat out Zach Gentry for the third spot.
Offensive Linemen (9) – Trai Turner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore Jr., J.C. Hassenauer, Rashaad Coward
Analysis: Out goes B.J. Finney from this nine and in comes Hassenauer. Based on what Alex Kozora has seen so far in camp, Finney seems to be outside the 53-man roster bubble right now. Might we see the Steelers add a more veteran center after roster cuts? I think it is possible. If that happens, out goes Hassenauer.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: These six have been the six I have had for a while. Davis had a good Hall of Fame Game showing and needs to keep progressing the rest of camp and the preseason. Loudermilk is not a lock.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert III
Analysis: I was right about Vince Williams not sticking. Now the race is on to see who can be the fourth and fifth inside linebacker, assuming five in total are kept. I added Gilbert this time along with the four I had last time. Watch out for Calvin Bundage because he has showed up on special teams. Gilbert needs a much better second preseason game Thursday night.
Outside Linebackers (4) – T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: The only change here from last time is that I now have Quincy Roche going to the practice squad and mainly because of special teams play. Last time I had five total outside linebackers and now I have the team keeping just four. Marsh has had a nice summer and is a good special teams player.
Cornerbacks (6) – Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Antoine Brooks Jr., Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet
Analysis: Analysis: Brooks Jr, is now official a cornerback in my eyes as he is competing for the starting slot role. I am keeping Layne on my 53 at least one more week. I am not married to him sticking, however and the same goes for Maulet. For now, I have Shakur Brown going to the practice squad after having him on my 53 the last time around. That might be changed back after the second preseason game.
Safeties (4) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Analysis: I have Norwood landing on the 53 this time around after having him on practice squad the last time. The Steelers sure could use an experienced back up free safety that is decent or better on special teams.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: No change here. Sam Sloman will be gone very, very soon.
Punter (1) – Pressley Harvin III
Analysis: Like last time, the rookie Harvin is my choice here and how can it not be?
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Canaday is my choice again, as expected.
Summary: Really not married to Layne, Maulet, Norwood, Hassenauer, and Loudermilk right now. I think at least one more player not currently under contract winds up being in the Week 1 53-man roster and maybe even two. Maybe a veteran center on the cheap and a backup free safety type. Currently, Roche is the only draft pick from this year that I do not have making the 53.
|Steelers 2021 53-Man Roster Prediction 8/11/21|
|Snell Jr., Benny||RB|
|McFarland Jr., Anthony||RB|
|Moore, Jr., Dan||T|
|Gilbert III, Ulysees||ILB|
|Brooks Jr., Antoine||CB|
|Harvin III, Pressley||P|