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 Steelers have one of the better starting tandems in the NFL but the depth behind them is lacking. This is especially true when it comes to knowing and playing in the Steelers system. Their two primary backups from 2020 Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield are no longer with the team so the new faces of this group will need to get up to speed quickly.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is the free safety and while the Steelers paid a high price for him it was well worth it. He has solidified the backend of the defense and has made splash plays early and often for this defense. In 30 games with the Steelers he has 136 tackles, 20 passes defensed, 9 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles. He has returned 3 turnovers for touchdowns as well.
The strong safety is Terrell Edmunds and after two seasons of subpar pass defense he made strides in 2020. After having 1 career interception and 7 career pass breakups he improved both of those numbers with 2 interceptions and 8 passed defensed last season. They also asked him to blitz more and he allowed the lowest completion percentage of his career (55.6%). His 5th year option was not picked up but he is poised for another season of improvement.
The other likely member of this group is veteran Miles Killebrew. He will be tasked with backing up Edmunds and a core member of the special team groups. He is entering year 6 and has played in 78 games with 4 starts and has 105 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups, one forced fumble and one touchdown.
Tre Norwood – He leads off the trio of rookies looking to make the roster. He was an early entry into the 2021 NFL draft and was taken in the 7th round. In three seasons at Oklahoma he had 111 tackles, 6 interceptions and 14 pass breakups with 1 touchdown. For Pittsburgh he would play the free safety position and will also get a look at slot corner.
On the positive side, he has ball skills which are something the Steelers have focused on more in recent seasons. He processes plays well and is aggressive to the ball. He has made some plays on special teams in the preseason; a key when being a backup. In the preseason, he has 4 tackles and one pass defense.
On the negative side, and this will be a negative for all three, is they are rookies with no NFL experience to back up the centerfielder of the defense. He lacks physicality in his play. He needs to clean up his tackling technique and he has adequate recovery speed.
Donovan Stiner – The former Florida Gator is also listed as a free safety on the roster. He was a part of large group of defensive backs the Steelers signed as undrafted free agents. He was a four year player in college and compiled 145 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 6 interceptions and 3 pass breakups.
On the positive side, he has very good size and length at nearly 6’2” and 205 pounds. In college he played the single high, in the box and occasionally in the slot. He’s best playing downhill. He has solid range and will add a big hit now and then. He has experience on kick and punt coverage units. He has 4 tackles and an interception in the preseason.
On the negative side, he too is a rookie with no experience. He has average speed to run with receivers. He needs to improve tackling angles so he isn’t left trying to make a diving stop or overrun the ball carrier. There is some hesitation with him trusting what he sees and committing to his read.
Lamont Wade – Rookie option number three is another undrafted free agent. Wade is listed as a strong safety on the roster and played his collegiate ball at Penn State. He played corner his freshman year before switching to safety and had 153 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles, 10 pass breakups and 1 interception.
On the positive side, he is the fastest of the group with 4.46 speed. He has a good motor and acceleration to the ball. He keys the ball well in coverage and on running plays. He is a solid run defender and can be used to blitz. Aims low on tackles and plays with solid physicality. He has 3 tackles in the preseason.
On the negative side, he is the smallest of this group. Not a fit for the slot due to struggles in Press coverage and is grabby in Man coverage. He lunges too often when tackling leading to arm tackle attempts. He is not good at block destruction and avoiding blocks. He has the fewest preseason snaps of this group.
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 – (44 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
- OLB (4) – T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche
- ILB (4) – Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen
- CB (6) – Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Antoine Brooks, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet
Practice Squad (10)
- QB – Joshua Dobbs, RB Kalen Ballage, WR Isaiah McKoy, TE Kevin Rader, IOL J.C. Hassenauer, OL Aviante Collins, DL Isaiah Buggs, OLB Jamir Jones, ILB Buddy Johnson, DB Shakur Brown