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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-Man Roster

Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
Derek Overly
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Training camp is officially over, and we are coming up on week 3 of the preseason, typically known as the dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal game is a good indicator as to how the depth chart stands, though we already have an idea of how the roster will shape up. Let’s take a look where we stand.

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs (3)

This one is pretty straight forward. Yes, Devlin Hodges has performed admirably, no he isn’t supplanting Josh Dobbs on the roster.

Running Back

James Conner

James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr. (3)

Another straight forward position, the only question here is if Trey Edmunds can show enough to push for a roster spot over one of the wide receivers.

Fullback

Roosevelt Nix

Roosevelt Nix (1)

Rosie, Rosie, Rosie. Fullback isn’t a position often utilized, especially with the Steelers using more 2-back sets, but Rosie is a special teams ace who is a lock for the 53.

Wide Receiver

Juju Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers (6)

Going in to preseason there was some hype around Diontae Spencer as a return specialist and gadget/deep threat receiver. He hasn’t shown enough as a receiver in preseason and Mike Tomlin said his return value won’t be enough to keep him around.

Tight End

Vance McDonald

Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry (3)

There’s a great possibility that the Steelers look outside of the organization for a tight end. Although Grimble is a blocking specialist in the form of Matt Spaeth, and Tomlin likes having those guys around.

Offensive Tackle

Alejandro Villanueva

Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwama Okorafor, Zach Banner (4)

Zach Banner has performed well enough to secure a roster spot in my opinion. Since losing close to 100 pounds, he has been a different player. He edges out Jerald Hawkins, who just can’t stay healthy.

Offensive Guard

David DeCastro

Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Fred Johnson (3)

Big Gainesville, Fred Johnson, has impressed all through camp and preseason. He will likely be a game day inactive with B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler capable of playing guard, but he has potential.

Center

Maurkice Pouncey

Maurkice Pouncey, B.J. Finney (2)

This one is simple, like clockwork.

Defensive Line

Cameron Heyward

Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Daniel McCullers (6)

Buggs replaces L.T. Walton here, with a little more upside and versatility being able to play nose and end in the 3-4. McCullers sticks around again after having a fine camp.

Edge Defender

TJ Watt

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Anthony Chickilli (4)

The only question at Outside Linebacker is how long Ola Adeniyi misses after his knee surgery. The timetable provided is 2-4 weeks, which puts him on track to return for week 2 of the regular season. Is that enough for them to carry another linebacker? If so, Tuzar Skipper has the upper hand on Sutton Smith at the moment. Smith hasn’t seen the field and Skipper has taken full advantage, notching 2 sacks and a fumble recovery. Regardless, The Steelers will likely do what they can to keep Skipper on the practice squad.

Linebacker

Vince Williams

Vince Williams, Mark Barron, Devin Bush, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysses Gilbert III (5)

My initial prediction here had only 4 on the roster, but both Gilbert and Matakevich have played well this preseason. Matakevich looks noticeably thinner and quicker, playing the best defense we’ve seen from him in his career, on top of being a key special teams contributor. Gilbert was likely a practice squad candidate before he showed what he’s capable of in the preseason. Albeit he’s played against 3rd stingers, he’s shown excellent read and react, especially in coverage, and the ability to make plays in the backfield. It’ll be hard to keep him off the roster.

Cornerback

Joe Haden

Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Cam Sutton, Justin Layne

Artie Burns has come to life, ladies and gentlemen. He won’t win a starting job with Haden and Nelson holding down the fort, but he will be a top reserve on the team. The rest is pretty vanilla. Haden and Nelson start outside, Hilton in the slot, Sutton a versatile reserve and Layne was a third round pick this season so he’s not in danger of not making the team.

Safety

Terrell Edmunds

Terrell Edmunds, Sean Davis, Kameron Kelly, Jordan Dangerfield

This is one of the trickier positions. Kam Kelly, who led the Alliance of American Football in interceptions as a cornerback, after transitioning from wide receiver mid-season is the only true free safety style player on the roster behind Sean Davis, and has been given the opportunity to run with the first team while Sean Davis missed time. He’s performed well enough to still be getting first team reps in sub package football even after Davis returned. The other surprise is Dangerfield being kept over Marcus Allen. Allen’s roster spot could come down to special teams value, which both Dangerfield and Ulysses Gilbert have shown a higher propensity to make plays on special teams. Allen has also had a rough go of it in coverage so far this preseason, so he could very well be in danger not making the team. He still has practice squad eligibility however.

Special Teams

Chris Boswell

K Chris Boswell, P Jordan Berry, LS Kameron Canaday

Special teams is one of the most reliable positions on the team. Ian Berryman hasn’t shown enough consistency to challenge Jordan Berry

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