You’re going to build the roster.
If you’re like me you’d love the chance to be a General Manager. We all have our opinions on players throughout the draft process and throughout the season of who we would prefer to have on the team or active roster. I thought this might be a fun process to look at a group of players give some background information on each player and see who you would keep. And yes, I understand you want to see how everyone does in training camp.
I’ll give you three players from each position group and you decide which two you will keep (one to the active roster, one to the practice squad) and one player to cut. At the end of this process we’ll have a 53 man roster and a good portion of the practice squad built by you.
Just like the interior of the line the tackles are changing as well. Alejandro Villanueva was allowed to move on in free agency so there will be a new left tackle. The right tackle position started with Zach Banner in 2020 but an early injury led to Chukwuma Okorafor starting from week two until the end of the season. There will basically be new starters at each position. There will probably be 4 on the active roster and at least one on the practice squad.
Okorafor has the inside track to take over the left tackle position. That is where he played in college and is a more natural fit for him with his skill set. The left tackle usually leans toward the athletic side rather than the physical side making him a good fit. In 2020, he was second on the offensive line in total snaps behind Villanueva and solidified the right tackle spot after Banners injury. In three seasons he has played in 30 games with 19 starts and this season could decide his future as a Steeler.
Banner is still working his way back from a week one knee injury and is being slowly worked back into team drills in training camp. The right tackle is usually the more physical of the two tackles and Banner fits that mold. He is people mover and plays with an aggressive mentality. He too is entering year four and has played in 23 games with 2 starts and is the first year of a two year contract.
For the third tackle I am going to go with rookie Dan Moore Jr. In the first preseason game he got the start at left tackle and played the first 23 snaps protecting the blind side of quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins. There is some speculation that he could push Okorafor for the starting job. He has good length and can play on either side. A three year starter he has come into camp with competitiveness and maturity and should be on the roster from day one.
Joe Haeg – The veteran tackle was signed this year after a championship season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to that he spent four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and in total he has played 67 games with 38 starts primarily at right tackle. In Tampa he was primarily used as the sixth offensive lineman basically a blocking tight end.
On the positive side, he has great experience with more starts than anyone on the roster. He can play guard, tackle or lineup at tight end in situations where you want to run the ball. He is an upgrade as the tackle eligible from what the Steelers had last year. With both starters out, he got the start at right tackle and played 23 snaps
On the negative side, just three of his starts have come in the last two years. He struggled in his lone start last year at left guard allowing multiple pressures. Is he only valuable as a run blocker? If a tackle goes down, can he handle being a starter for multiple games?
Aviante Collins – He is a three year veteran who spent his previous seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He was signed to a reserve/futures contract in February to be given a shot at being depth along the offensive line. Collins went undrafted in 2017 and has played in five games with one start. He can play guard or tackle and was in the running for the starting guard spot in Minnesota last season.
On the positive side, he is another player with positional flexibility which is so valuable during the season. In the Hall of Fame game he was used at left tackle and played 36 snaps. He is known as having good athleticism, tenacity to sustain blocks and fits a mobile blocking scheme.
On the negative side, he is has struggled to get on the field in his three seasons. One of those seasons was lost to injury. Per his draft profile on NFL.com he lacks the ideal size and length to play tackle and lacks the hand usage and anchor to play against power rushers inside.
Chaz Green – Yet another veteran brought in this season to compete for a job. He is entering his sixth season and has played games with the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts. He has also spent time with New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos. The former third round pick by the Cowboys has played in 37 games with 8 starts.
On the positive side, teams have seen enough of him to continue to give him opportunities to make the roster. Coming out of college he has good footwork and awareness and had experience at both tackle spots. He got one start last year which happen to be against the Steelers. In the first preseason games he played 36 snaps at right tackle
On the negative side, he got one start against the Steelers last year and had to face T.J. Watt and did not perform well. His draft profile at NFL.com said he was a poor blocker in the run game, stops his feet in pass protection and they questioned his functional strength. Six teams in six years.
The choice is yours. I will tally up the comments and also do a poll on Twitter to get the results. The results of each positon group will be listed below going forward until you have a complete roster.
53 Man Roster – (20 of 53)
- QB (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
- RB (3) – Najee Harris, Anthony McFarland, Benny Snell Jr
- FB (1)– Derek Watt
- WR (5) – Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
- TE (3) – Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
- IOL (5) – Kevin Dotson, Trai Turner, Kendrick Green, Rashad Coward, B.J. Finney
Practice Squad (5)
- QB – Joshua Dobbs, RB Kalen Ballage, WR Isaiah McKoy, TE Kevin Rader, IOL J.C. Hassenauer