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.
The outside linebacker position in Pittsburgh has a long history of premier pass rushers but much like other position groups this season it too will be undergoing major changes. A big loss was felt with the departure of Bud Dupree who left in free agency to join the Tennessee Titans. Dupree really blossomed in his last two seasons in Pittsburgh 19.5 sacks in 27 games and earned a big payday. The time has come for new blood to show what they can do.
On the left side you have T.J. Watt. Do I need to say anything else? Of course not but why not praise him a little. A three time Pro Bowler, two time First Team All Pro and finished in the top 3 for Defensive Player of the Year the last two seasons. He has increased his sack total in every season (7, 13, 14.5, 15) leading the NFL in 2020 as well as tackles for a loss. He is about as good as they get.
On the right side is Alex Highsmith who is entering his second season. He performed well in a backup role for most of the season and did well on special teams. After the injury to Dupree he stepped in as the starter for the final 5 games and had 28 of his 48 tackles in those games. He was strong against the run and improved as a pass rusher in each game. He came in this year stronger and looks faster so far in the preseason. The arrow is pointing up and the ceiling is high.
General Manager Kevin Colbert has a knack for making essential signings and adding ten year veteran Melvin Ingram III to the group solidified and area where depth was needed. He is a three time Pro Bowler with 49 career sacks. His 2020 season was limited with knee injury but he will allow the Steelers to give Watt and Highsmith some breaks in the game and will be used to rush inside when the put five linebackers on the field.
Cassius Marsh – The veteran of this group is the well-traveled Marsh. Since entering the NFL in 2014 he has spent time with seven different teams. He signed with Pittsburgh late in the season to provide depth and saw time in one regular season game and the playoff game. In his career he has played in 92 games with 9 starts totaling 175 tackles and 14 sacks.
On the positive side, being a veteran has its advantages having seen the only NFL action compared to the other candidates. He has over 1,600 career snaps on defense and just fewer than 1,000 on special teams. When given the chance to play regularly he has produced with 5.5 sacks in 2018. He had four tackles, a sack and forced fumble in the first preseason game.
Best Game in 2020 – Vs Miami (with Jacksonville) – 3 tackles, 3 solo, 38 defensive snaps, 18 special team snaps
On the negative side, he has spent more than one season with just two teams and was on three teams in 2020 alone. Production is limited overall averaging 2 sacks a season and less than 2 tackles per game. He is a below average defender against the run. He has likely maxed out his ceiling so what you see is what you get.
Worst Game in 2020 – vs Green Bay (With Indianapolis) – 1 tackle, 1 solo, 10 defensive snaps, and 17 special team snaps
Jamir Jones – Jones is young player who was signed in April after a workout during Notre Dame’s 2021 Pro Day. He played his college ball at Notre Dame as a defensive end and had one year of solid production. He went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft and signed with Houston but did not make the team.
On the positive side, he has flashed in each of the first two preseason games and leads the team with 5 quarterback hits. He has shown strength to set the edge and good motor to get after the ball. He had two tackles on special teams and four tackles overall along with a sack in the second preseason game. Despite not playing a lot, he excelled on special teams
On the negative side, he is relatively unknown starting just four games at Notre Dame. He is raw and unrefined as a pass rusher lacking a go to move. He couldn’t make the roster of pretty bad team in Houston. He’s had good production in preseason but against 2nd and 3rd team players.
Quincy Roche – The Steelers added Roche in the sixth round after a productive collegiate career that started at Temple and ended in Miami. He played defensive end and compiled 30.5 sacks and 54 tackles for a loss. On the talented Miami roster he was overshadowed by Jaelan Philips (1st round Miami Dolphins) and Greg Rousseau (1st round Buffalo Bills) and many had Roche rated higher so getting him in the sixth round was deemed a steal.
On the positive side, coming into the NFL he is the most productive of the three candidates. He has different ways to get after the quarter back and uses his hands well. In the two preseason games he has been solid with 3 tackles and 1.5 sacks and according Pro Football Focus has the third best pass rush win rate in the early preseason.
On the negative side, he is making a position a position switch from defensive end to outside linebacker and has a lot to earn. Does he have the technique and strength to hold up on the edge and be good run defender? He has to show he can produce consistently on special teams. Would it be wise to have zero veteran depth after Ingram?
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 position group will be listed below going forward until you have a complete roster.
53 Man Roster – (30 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
- OT (4) – Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Dan Moore, Joe Haeg
- DL (6) – Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Carlos Davis
Practice Squad (7)
- QB – Joshua Dobbs, RB Kalen Ballage, WR Isaiah McKoy, TE Kevin Rader, IOL J.C. Hassenauer, Aviante Collins, Isaiah Buggs