Now that free agency and the draft are over we can start to look at what the 53 man roster will look like for week one. Of course a lot can change between now and then, but here’s a best guess with the players currently on the roster.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs.
No real drama here as these are sure to be the three quarterbacks the Steelers will go with in 2017.
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Knile Davis, James Conner.
Again not much here to debate. I suppose Fitz Toussaint has an outside chance to beat out someone not named Le’Veon Bell. It’s more likely his spot will depend on off-season injury.
FB: Roosevelt Nix.
Nix is pretty near a lock barring injury.
WR: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Juju Smith-Schuster, Sammy Coates, Justin Hunter, Eli Rogers.
This is where things get interesting. At perhaps the deepest position on the team, there will be some tough choices to be made. I believe Sammie Coates will beat out veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey as the deep threat/special teams ace for the last spot. Eli Rogers will be pushed by Demarcus Ayers so he’d better be on his game during the pre-season.
TE: Ladarius Green, Jesse James, David Johnson.
This group is pretty set as long as Green can put his injury issues behind him. Xavier Grimble has an outside shot at being the fourth tight end, but his lack of special teams play will work against him.
OL: Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, B. J. Finney, Chris Hubbard, Jerald Hawkins.
The starting five are etched in stone, while the three reserves are pretty certain as well. This is an outstanding group with good depth to go along with it.
DL: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Daniel McCullers, L. T. Walton.
Pittsburgh signed Alualu for depth at defensive end, but did not address the backup nose tackle position in free agency or the draft. So it’s another year with big Dan McCullers for better or for worse.
ILB: Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, L. J. Fort, Tyler Matakevich, Steve Johnson.
This group makes me nervous after Shazier. The Steelers flirted with New England’s Dont’a Hightower, but couldn’t get a deal done. If there is a position we still might see a veteran signed its inside linebacker.
OLB: James Harrison, Bud Dupree, T. J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams.
Is this the year the Steelers get a consistent pass rush from this group? It may very well be. Look for a breakout year from Dupree and a solid performance from the Harrison-Watt combination. In a bit of a suprise, I have rookie Keion Adams beating out Arthur Moates for the final outside linebacker spot. Adams is younger, cheaper, and can add more on special teams.
CB: Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell, Cam Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, Senquez Golson, Brian Allen.
The real battle here will be between Golson, and veteran William Gay. If Golson can finally stay healthy enough to make it through the pre-season, he should easily win a job on this team. Brian Allen is just too unique of a size/speed corner to stash on the practice squad unless he really bombs during training camp.
S: Sean Davis, Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield.
Not much competition in this group. Failing to draft a safety may haunt the Steelers if an injury pops up. This is another position where a veteran could still be brought in before the season starts.
Special: Jordan Berry, Chris Boswell, Gregg Warren.
Berry and Boswell made the best kicking tandem in a very long time in Pittsburgh. The Steelers basically wasted a pick by drafting Colin Holba. Old faithful Gregg Warren will once again win the long snapping job.