With the Pittsburgh Steelers third preseason game of 2021 now behind us and their fourth one on tap for Friday 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 quite few changes in this one compared to my last offering, which I released after the team’s second preseason game.
My next stab at the Steelers 53-man roster will likely be posted right after the team’s preseason finale on Friday night.
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
Quarterbacks (3) — Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
Analysis: No reason to change this three at all. I’m excited to watch Haskins start Friday night and play the bulk of the game.
Running Backs (4) – Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage
Analysis: Snell will play Friday night and it will be his first work of the preseason. Is four running backs too many and are Snell and Ballage redundant? It’s possible the answer could be yes to both. Maybe Snell can be traded. For now, I will keep these four but my final prediction might have just four with Snell being gone. It’s worth noting that Snell and Ballage can both play on special teams.
Fullbacks (1) – Derek Watt
Analysis: No change here once again and for obvious reasons. Watt has stayed healthy so far in minimum snaps played during the preseason. I doubt he plays Friday night.
Wide Receivers (5) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: McCloud might not be too safe heading into the finale. Can Mathew Sexton unseat McCloud as the returner Friday night? Odds are perhaps against that, but I sure would not bet the house that McCloud sticks at this point just the same. I’m rooting for Sexton but keeping McCloud for now.
Tight Ends (3) – Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
Analysis: Okay, maybe Gentry can beat out Kevin Rader for the third spot. Gentry has looked a lot better during the preseason and last week even played ahead of Rader. This battle for the third tight end spot might come down to Friday night. I will take the bait and switch out Gentry for Rader this time.
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’m dumping Rashaad Coward to the practice squad now in favor of B.J. Finney. Finney, in my opinion, has played better than Coward during the preseason. Finney can also play center in a pinch. Coward still seems very, very raw. I will not be surprised at all if the Steelers add a veteran center right ahead of the regular season starting. Hassenauer might not be safe if that happens. Could Haeg be out the door? The Steelers don’t save much money by cutting him but he sure has been outplayed by the rookie Moore during the preseason.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: These six have been the six for quite some time and I have never felt better about them barring injuries. I have Henry Mondeaux and Isaiah Buggs landing on the practice squad. I do now wonder quite a bit about Tuitt and if he’ll be ready for Week 1. Might a seventh defensive lineman need to be kept initially? We’ll see, but for now I will stick with the six as that’s usually the number the Steelers keep.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Joe Schobert, Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen
Analysis: These have been my five since the team traded for Schobert. With Calvin Bundage now gone, I think Ulysees Gilbert III could be tabbed for the practice squad.
Outside Linebackers (4) – T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: I am keeping Marsh in this group of four once again and once again it is mainly due to him being a good special teams player. To me, Jamir Jones is in a good spot to take Marsh’s spot in the preseason finale. Rookie Quincy Roche is still running behind Jones it seems. I have Jones and Roche still on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks (6) – Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, Shakur Brown
Analysis: Antoine Brooks Jr. is now on the team’s Reserve/Injured list after clearing waivers. That opens up one spot and for now I will give it to the rookie free agent Brown as at least he has been good on special teams so far during the preseason. Brown is far from a lock as the Steelers could still add a defensive back that can play in the slot in the next few weeks.
Safeties (4) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Analysis: At this point, Norwood is for sure in now and probably even if the team adds another defensive back in the next few weeks, which is something I think could indeed happen. Norwood will play some in the slot in nickel Friday night.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Boswell, as expected, is the last one standing.
Punter (1) – Pressley Harvin III
Analysis: Like last time, the rookie Harvin is my choice here but Jordan Berry is still on the roster heading into the preseason finale. Hopefully the Steelers can trade Berry in the next few days.
Long Snapper (1) – Christian Kuntz
Analysis: Who knew we would have a long snapper battle develop late in this process? Well, that has happened and now I like Kuntz’s chances of taking out Kameron Canaday. This will be decided Friday night but Kuntz is still on the roster this late for a reason.
Summary: I switched up my 53 quite a bit this time around and my practice squad as well. Out goes Brooks Jr., Coward, Rader and Canaday for starters. Newcomers this time include Brown, Gentry, Finney and Kuntz. I’m very unsure if the Steelers will keep three or four running backs in addition to Watt right now. I’m also not sure my nine offensive linemen are correct as there are indeed a few questions related to a few spots with that group of either nine or ten.
|Steelers 2021 53-Man Roster Prediction 8/27/21|
|Snell Jr., Benny||RB|
|McFarland Jr., Anthony||RB|
|Moore, Jr., Dan||T|
|Harvin III, Pressley||P|
|Gilbert III, Ulysees||ILB|