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Steelers 53 man roster prediction: 2.0

The Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster will unfortunately be heavily affected by the Covid 19 epidemic.  The lack of preseason games will undoubtedly cost some players any real opportunity of making the roster. Undrafted free agents, and players on the fringe of the roster will have little chance to impress this off-season.  With that said, let’s jump into the Steelers Sanctuary 53 man roster prediction 2.0:

Quarterbacks: (3)

Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch 

Let’s face it folks, the entire season rests on the health of Ben Roethlisberger.  No one else at this position really matters.  Mason Rudolph is the primary backup at this point, as scary as that might be.  The interesting battle here will be for the third spot.  The coaches have spent the offseason talking up Paxton Lynch.  That, and the awful way Duck Hodges finished up 2019 is why we are going with Lynch here.  We can not stress enough the importance of a healthy Big Ben for this team.  Steelers quarterback situation in 2020: Ben or bust

Runningbacks: (4)

James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Wendell Smallwood 

Kevin Colbert threw a monkey wrench into our roster predictions when he signed Wendell Smallwood last month. Way too early Steelers 53 man roster prediction

The Steelers running back room is suddenly very crowded.  There are six legitimate candidates to make the roster at this position.  Let’s start with the odd man out in our opinion.  We are even more convinced that Jaylen Samuels is not long for this roster.  The acquisition of Smallwood means that even his special teams contributions can be replaced. Add in his declining production last season, and Samuels is a lock to get cut at some point.

Kerrith Whyte remains a dark horse in this race.  His kickoff return abilities give him a slight edge over other the other backs.  If an injury were to occur to the top four, Whyte may yet find himself a spot on this team.

Fullback: (1)

Not much new to talk about here.  Derek Watt is unchallenged at this position.  Having just signed as a free agent, it would take an unforeseeable issue to pop up for Watt to not make this roster.

Wide Receivers: (6)

Ju Ju Smith Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer, Deon Cain

No change here from our first Steelers 53 man roster effort.  We remain convinced as long as Ben Roehtlisberger is around, so will Ryan Switzer.  The two appear to be very close which gives him a leg up on the rest of the receivers on this team.  Switzer certainly doesn’t lack confidence in himself.  He recently proclaimed he would be one of the best slot receivers in the league.  We of course are extremely skeptical of that ever happening.  https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/07/21/ryan-switzer-i-believe-ill-be-one-of-the-best-slot-wrs-in-the-nfl/

Diontae Johnson will be the breakout star for this upcoming season.  He is on the verge of a major breakout in 2020.  We believe he will surpass Ju Ju Smith Schuster as the team’s number one receiver before the year is out.

Tight Ends: (3)

Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry

We strongly considered replacing Zach Gentry with newly acquired Dax Raymond for this roster prediction.  There’s simply not enough opportunity for him to overtake Gentry with no pre-season games in 2020.  Raymond is destined for the practice squad to start, but don’t be surprised to see him replace Gentry at some point during the year.

Offensive Line: (8)

Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Feiler, Chuks Okorafor, Zach Banner, Steven Wisnieski, Kevin Dotson

There’s been some considerable news since our last Steelers 53 man roster prediction.  Mike Tomlin announced that Matt Feiler will be the team’s starting left guard this upcoming season. https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/06/24/steelers-to-move-matt-feiler-to-left-guard/

That means there is an open battle for the right tackle position in Pittsburgh.  The two players vying for this spot will be Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner.  This will be by far the most interesting position battle anywhere on the team.  It will be very interesting to see which one starts out on the number one line during practices this off-season.  This is something to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks.

Total Offense: (25)

Defensive Line: (6)

Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Dan McCullers, Henry Mondeaux

No change from our earlier version here. The future of this group is very much in doubt led by soon to be free agent Cam Heyward.  In an earlier article we wrote how this will be an extremely tough player for the cap strapped Steelers to retain. Cam Heyward is playing his last season in Pittsburgh

We are still standing by our prediction that Henry Mondeaux will be a surprise roster inclusion.  He showed some ability last pre-season, and spent the entire year on the practice squad.  Expect him to edge out Isaiah Buggs for the final defensive line spot.

Inside Linebackers (4)

Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane 

Even if we wanted to throw in a surprise candidate, or a fifth player there is simply nobody else on this roster worth mentioning.  These four are locks for the inside linebacker position.  We look forward to Devin Bush blossoming into one of the premier off-ball linebackers this year.  The sky is the limit for this talented Steeler. 

Outside Linebackers: (5)

TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Ola Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper

This is best group of outside linebackers the Steelers have had since their last Super Bowl win.  TJ Watt and Bud Dupree are as good as any pass rushing duo in the league.  Kevin Colbert added some much needed depth in drafting Alex Highsmith.  He could very well end up being the replacement for Dupree in 2021.

 

Corners: (5)

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

The Steelers go into the 2020 season with the best corner duo they have had in a very long time.  Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are savvy veterans who rarely make mistakes.  Add one of the premier slot corners in Mike Hilton, and this is an impressive group.  The only worry is age catching up with Joe Haden at some point this season.  Otherwise this is a very solid group.

Safeties: (4)

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Curtis Riley

We left a “TBD” at safety when we wrote our first roster prediction.  As we correctly predicted, the Steelers added a player to their safety depth.  There simply was no one on the roster capable of playing free safety if Minkah Fitzpatrick got injured.  Kevin Colbert had to make a move, and Curtis Riley was the choice. If we are being honest, Riley is a marginal player at best.  That tells how bad the situation was that now he’s an absolute lock to make the team.  We still wouldn’t be surprised if another safety was signed at some point.

Total Defense (25)

Specialists: (3)

Chris Boswell, Corliss Waitman, Kameron Canaday

We are sticking with our prediction in an earlier post that Jordan Berry has played his last game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meet the Steelers 2020 punter: Corliss Waitman

Corliss Waitman will now join Chris Boswell in giving the Steelers one of the best kicking duos in the league.  Boswell had a terrific comeback season in 2019, solidifying him as the team’s kicker.  This should be an exceptional group this season.

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