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 but try to play along.
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.
Cameron Heyward is the unquestioned leader of this group. The three time All-Pro hit double digit sacks for the second time in his career and finished tied for third on the team in tackles last year. High motor, impressive strength and tenacity are traits he possesses and this helps him be one of the top defensive linemen in the league.
Losing Tyson Alualu had a huge effect on this defense particularly against the run. The former defensive end has taken to playing the nose tackle position very well. He is able to control the blockers up front and free up space for the linebackers. He’s a little long in the tooth but when healthy he is an important cog along the line.
A late but important addition to this group is Larry Ogunjobi. The former third round pick is now on his third AFC North team but he has been fairly consistent in his career. He has averaged approximately 50 tackles and 5 sacks over the previous four seasons. He will likely take the place of Stephon Tuitt and Ogunjobi feels his game is similar to the retired Steeler.
Chris Wormley took the place of Tuitt last year and he responded in a big way. He set career highs in snaps, tackles and sacks. He came to Pittsburgh more defined as a run defender but he was able to apply pressure last year. In 2020, he will likely be the primary backup at defensive end and will cover for Ogunjobi if he isn’t physically ready to go week one.
The Steelers draft a lot of defensive linemen but they are usually late on day three. DeMarvin Leal was selected in the third round of the 2022 draft and is transforming his body to fit what the team needs. In the first preseason game he showed a nice club move while rushing the passer. Right now he is probably a better pass rusher than run defender and as an early pick he will likely make the 53.
We can start with six defensive linemen and add on at the end of this process. Or if you really feel like they should keep seven, make it known below. Here are the candidates.
The team traded up last year to get Loudermilk and he showed some positives. Over the course of the season he ended up playing in 16 games (including playoffs) getting two starts. He compiled 288 snaps on defense and 43 on special teams. When the season completed he had compiled 26 tackles and one dubious sack when he was credited with chasing Baker Mayfield out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.
On the positive side, he was best against the run showing the ability to stack and shed blocker. He is a high motor player and a strong tackler. With healthy veterans in front of him he can observe and learn from them and the coaches are noticing the effort he has put in to add strength and work on his pass rush plan. He also knocked down three passes last year.
Best Game: Week 16 2021 at Kansas City (loss) – start, 51 snaps, 6 tackles, 3 solo
On the negative side, with returning healthy veterans and the addition of Ogunjobi his snaps may be more limited. His pass rush skills were very much lacking in 2021 unable to general pressure consistently.
Worst Game: Week 4 2021 at Green Bay (loss) – 17 defensive snaps, 0 tackles, 1 pass break up
Adams was an addition to the team in late November of 2021 to try to help fill the middle of the porous defensive line. He made himself known right away showing burst and being disruptive in the run game. In 2021 with Pittsburgh, he appeared in six games including the playoffs and started four of those contests. He finished with 10 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass breakup.
On the positive side, he filled a need last year and played well enough to put himself in the mix this season. He has very good burst at the snap and can be disruptive in the run game. He fits the need as a nose tackle behind Alualu but is willing to be positional flexible.
Best Game: Week 17 2019 vs Detroit (loss) – 51 snaps, 7 tackles, 3 solo
On the negative side, he won’t provide much as a pass rusher with 1.5 career sacks. He has been dealing with an ankle injury for a good portion of camp. With the good group of veteran and the two young linemen, he may be the odd man out of they keep six in this position group.
Worst Game: He has been inactive, injured or did not play in 14 of the last 24 games with Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Green Bay.
Since joining the team in 2020, Mondeaux has scratched and clawed his way to the active roster more often than not. An undrafted player out of Oregon he has made himself available on defense and special teams. Over two seasons, he has played in 28 games (2 of which were playoff games) and has 22 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery.
On the positive side, the best ability is availability and he has stepped in when ever needed. Due to injury circumstances with Alualu and Adams he got the start in the first preseason game over Carlos Davis. He has played quite a bit on special teams with 237 snaps overall.
Best Game: Week 17 2022 (January) vs Cleveland (win) – 20 snaps, 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack
On the negative side, he is a liability when he isn’t used in small doses especially against the run. He doesn’t provide must as a pass rusher. He has more heart and effort than ability. The numbers game has him behind the eight ball with the players ahead of him.
Worst game: Week 11 2021 At Los Angeles (loss) – 27 defensive snaps, 0 tackles
Also on the roster: Khalil Davis, Carlos Davis, Donovan Jeter
53 Man Roster – (20 of 53)
QB – Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
RB – Najee Harris, Benny Snell, Derek Watt, Jaylen Warren
WR – Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski
TE – Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
IOL – Mason Cole, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, Chris Owens
OT – TBD
QB – Chris Oladokun
RB – Anthony McFarland
WR – Anthony Miller
TE – Kevin Rader
IOL – J.C. Hassenauer