With one pre-season game under our belts its time for another roster prediction. The bottom end of this roster is extremely tough to sort out. The lack of depth at certain positions make it tough to justify putting the same number of players the Steelers usually carry.
Quarterback (3) Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Breakdown: Josh Dobbs is in an impossible spot here. He’s not experienced enough to replace Jones, and there’s no way he can beat out Rudolph for a roster spot. There’s always the possibility he can end up on the practice squad.
Running Backs (3) Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Stevan Ridley
Breakdown: Tough choice between Ridley and Toussaint here. Ridley has an edge as a pass catcher out of the backfield though. I almost went with four backs, and left a wide receiver off. That may end up happening at some point. Fifth round pick Jaylen Samuels is destined for the practice squad.
Fullback (1) Roosevelt Nix
Breakdown: There is no competition here, nor should there be any.
Tight Ends (3) Vance McDonald, Jesse James, Xavier Grimble
Breakdown: Tight end has been set in stone since the end of last season. If however, McDonald continues to stay injured the Steelers may have to make a move. Without him this group is very “JV” as coach Tomlin would say.
Wide Receivers (6) Antonio Brown, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Damoun Patterson
Breakdown: This is really a crap shoot after AB and Ju Ju. Obviously James Washington is on the team, after that though…..whew. I had to swallow hard to keep six from this collection. DHB gets in for one reason, and one reason only………special teams. Even that trait may not save him any longer. At this point, I have no idea why Justin Hunter is still on this team. Somebody there really likes him so I put him on too. Everyone has Damoun Patterson making the team now. If he keeps up what he’s been doing, he’s a lock. That’s a big “if” considering Patterson is an undrafted free agent, but we will see.
Offensive Line (8) Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, B. J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chuks Okorafor
Breakdown: Not much to say about this solid position group. A lot of us wondered why the Steelers invested a relatively high draft pick in another tackle. Good thing they did with the season ending injury to Jerald Hawkins.
OFFENSE TOTAL: (24)
Defensive Line (6) Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Dan McCullers, L.T. Walton
Breakdown: Another solid group without much to discuss. The story here is that once again “BIG” Dan McCullers will once again make this team. It may be possible he is a late bloomer and we are in for a really good season out of him. Stranger things have happened.
Inside Linebackers (5) Vince Williams, Jon Bostic, Tyler Matakevich, L.J. Fort, Matthew Thomas
Breakdown: This is a sad, sad collection of linebackers. I still hold out hope the team will bring someone in to bolster this position. The other hope is that Matthew Thomas lives up to his talent and grabs a starting job. I still think the final five inside linebackers is to be determined.
Outside Linebackers (5) T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Ola Adeniyi
Breakdown: There was a time where determining the Steelers linebacker depth chart was difficult due to talent. That’s not the case anymore. The final two spots go to a seventh round pick and an undrafted free agent, with very little competition for them. Unless of course you include another undrafted free agent Farrington Huguenin. Adams and Adeniyi have showed some good things so far, but the Steelers better prey for no injuries to the starters. Watt or Dupree going down for any length of time could be catastrophic for this defense.
Corners (6) Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, Brian Allen
Breakdown: Dare I say this has become a strength of the Steelers defense?? This team has not had this kind of depth in well forever. I’m going with six here because I believe that Sutton or Hilton could play free safety in a pinch. Both have practiced there during training camp.
Safety (4) Sean Davis, Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds, Nat Berhe
Breakdown: Keeping six corners means I only keep four safeties. There really isn’t a good option at free safety after Davis, that’s why I think the team would use a corner in an emergency. The possibility of Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds as a tandem is an exciting one. They would be the most athletic safety combination in a very long time for this team.
DEFENSE TOTAL (26)
Special teams (3)
K – Chis Boswell
P- Jordan Berry
LS – Kameron Canaday
Breakdown: The kicking game is as solid a unit as this team has. Boswell has become one of the game’s premier kickers.