2011 Steelers Final 53 Man Roster Prediction 5.0 – Final Edition

The final preseason game is now complete and now it is time to trim the roster down to 53 players for the final time this offseason. I have been all over the map in the previous versions of my final roster prediction and it is easy to understand why when you watch each preseason game 10 times each as you see new things every time through. It is easy to fall in love with certain players from game to game and it will cloud your judgment along the way.

Enough with the setup, here is my final Steelers 2011 53 man roster prediction and the reasoning behind it.

Heading into tonight several had Jonathan Dwyer on the bubble still, but I didn’t. I had seen enough over the weeks that he was a lock. He has turned the corner as far as responsibilities without the football. I have never had a doubt in his ability with the football, only without. If there was any doubt with anyone it was put to rest against the Panthers. He will be inactive on many game days, but would end up on another roster if released.

The offensive line pretty much sorted itself out on its own. Keith Williams and Chris Scott are practice squad material and I think they both have a good shot at clearing waivers. If they don’t, it’s not a huge loss in my opinion. I thought center John Malecki had a good shot at being the next Doug Legursky and had him pegged as practice squad player. With Trai Essex now serving as the emergency center there is no need for Malecki on the practice squad. I will say that Tony Hills and Ramon Foster pretty much got their roster spots because no one challenged them. It would not surprise me if either were released and their position upgraded after the final roster cuts around the league take place. The Steelers could use a better swing guard should one fit the bill.

Thanks to Byron Leftwich injury against the Falcons, the quarterback depth chart filled itself out. Charlie Batch should be the backup and Dennis Dixon will wait until Leftwich is recovered. I think Leftwich will be waived injured with a wink, wink that he can return when he is healthy.

On to the punters and this was really tough to call. Both Daniel Sepulveda and Jeremy Kapinos pretty much punted to a dead heat. Kapinos did out-kick Sepulveda against the Panthers and was the holder on the early extra points and field goals. Sepulveda is such a risk with his knee injury history that I feel that Kapinos is the safe pick here. I likely am reading too much into this position, but Kapinos would not last long on waivers and should Sepulveda go down again the Steelers will be back digging in the scrap heap. Call this a gut feeling.

The next big decision I had was 6 wide receivers, 4 tight ends or 9 linebackers. I had 4 players in the running for 2 roster spots. The players involved were Arnaz Battle, John Gilmore, Wesyle Saunders and Mortty Ivy. Let me start with Saunders first. The kid is talented and has the makings to be a great compliment to Heath Miller as an all-around tight end. He has progressed during the preseason, but still has some work to do, especially in his blocking. That being said, there is no way he clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad. Another team would sign him as their third tight end quickly. He is a keeper and he made my 53. That leaves Gilmore, Battle and Ivy battling for 1 spot. Battle is a specialist only in my eyes. Emmanuel Sanders showed he was healthy against the Panthers and the Steelers have several young corners that can try to fill the shoes of Battle on return teams. He was insurance last year due to the inexperience at that position, but barely saw the field. The new kickoff rule will likely produce a few more touchbacks this year and that lessens the need for Battle even more. He gets released in my opinion and can easily be brought back if he is not signed by another team. That left me with Gilmore and Ivy for one spot. Ivy has played well, but I feel he can be risked to waivers. He would be the 9th linebacker on the roster. I think the Steelers will try to get him and Mario Harvey there. Gilmore makes up for the inexperience of Saunders in my opinion. He has not looked bad in his blocking and has adapted well over the weeks. Bruce Arians likes those 3 tight end sets and Gilmore is added insurance. He plays some special teams so that is a plus as well. Keeping him will allow the Steelers to slowly integrate Saunders into the offense over time. I think he will get a gameday helmet over Saunders initially.

Next up was Chris Hoke versus Steve McLendon. McLendon closed the gap on Hoke this preseason, but I still feel that Hoke offers more in versatility. He showed it last year when Aaron Smith went down. McLendon bounced on and off the roster last year and no team ever bit on him. Maybe they will now, but I think the Steelers try to get him to the practice squad one last time. If he does not make it, Anthony Gray might be signed back instead. Let me say that I have not drunk the Corbin Bryant Kool-Aid that others have been chugging. He is talented, but I think he has a good shot at clearing waivers and making it to the practice squad. Others have called him a priority undrafted free agent that had many suitors, but if that were the case, why did he sign without getting a small signing bonus like many of the other undrafted free agents received from the Steelers? I will be pretty shocked if he makes the 53 man roster.

Lastly were the young cornerbacks. Oh the cornerbacks. They have made my head hurt this preseason. Donovan Warren caught my eye for a little while, but his lack of speed just can’t be ignored. Maybe he ends up on the practice squad, but right now I bet against that even happening. There is a reason he went undrafted and cornerbacks with any real upside do not go undrafted for the most part. Crezdon Butler and Cortez Allen were the other two question marks. Allen finally hit the field against the Panthers and put enough good down on tape that I do not think the Steelers can risk sliding him to the practice squad after investing a fourth-round pick in him. It would have been easier if he had bombed or not played at all. The raw talent is there and I see him spending several weeks on the inactive list this season as he makes up for lost time. Butler showed enough over the last two games to stick as well. It is too early to give up on him and he can help fill the role that Battle played on special teams. In all I have the Steelers keeping 7 cornerbacks.

I mentioned Williams, Scott, McLendon, Bryant, Ivy and Harvey as 6 of my 8 practice squad guys, so that leaves 2 spots left to fill. I think Da\’Mon Cromartie-Smith has a good shot to return there this year with Tyler Grisham getting the other spot. I do think however that another team might think long and hard about claiming Grisham off waivers and if that is indeed the case, I see Wes Lyons as the alternative.

There you have it, below is my final 53 man roster projection and prediction of the 2011 Steelers.

2011 Steelers Final 53 Man Roster Prediction 5.0 Version – FINAL

7 Ben Roethlisberger QB
16 Charlie Batch QB
10 Dennis Dixon QB
34 Rashard Mendenhall RB
20 Mewelde Moore RB
33 Isaac Redman RB
27 Jonathan Dwyer RB
17 Mike Wallace WR
86 Hines Ward WR
88 Emmanuel Sanders WR
84 Antonio Brown WR
82 Jerricho Cotchery WR
83 Heath Miller TE
85 David Johnson TE
89 John Gilmore TE
44 Wesyle Saunders TE
64 Doug Legursky G/C
53 Maurkice Pouncey C
68 Chris Kemoeatu G
73 Ramon Foster G
66 Tony Hills G
65 Marcus Gilbert T
72 Jonathan Scott T
79 Trai Essex T/G
74 Willie Colon T
24 Ike Taylor CB
20 Bryant McFadden CB
22 William Gay CB
28 Crezdon Butler CB
39 Cortez Allen CB
40 Curtis Brown CB
23 Keenan Lewis CB
43 Troy Polamalu SS
25 Ryan Clark FS
29 Ryan Mundy FS
26 Will Allen S
91 Aaron Smith DE
95 Cameron Heyward DE
96 Ziggy Hood DE
99 Brett Keisel DE
98 Casey Hampton NT
76 Chris Hoke NT
92 James Harrison OLB
94 Lawrence Timmons ILB
51 James Farrior ILB
56 LaMarr Woodley OLB
97 Jason Worilds OLB
55 Stevenson Sylvester ILB
50 Larry Foote ILB
54 Chris Carter OLB
6 Shaun Suisham K
13 Jeremy Kapinos P
60 Greg Warren LS
Practice Squad
48 Mortty Ivy LB
69 Steve McLendon NT
44 Mario Harvey LB
42 Da\’Mon Cromartie-Smith S
61 Chris Scott T
71 Corbin Bryant DE
19 Tyler Grisham WR
62 Keith Williams G
Week 1 Inactives
40 Curtis Brown CB
39 Cortez Allen CB
27 Jonathan Dwyer RB
73 Ramon Foster G/T
54 Chris Carter OLB
44 Wesyle Saunders TE
66 Tony Hills T
Injured Reserve
33 Baron Batch RB
48 Mortty Ivy LB
69 Steve McLendon NT
44 Mario Harvey LB
42 Da\’Mon Cromartie-Smith S
61 Chris Scott T
71 Corbin Bryant DE
19 Tyler Grisham WR
62 Keith Williams G
47Baraka AtkinsLB
81Arnaz BattleWR
38John ClayRB
61Jarrett CrittentonDE
35Brett GreenwoodS
31Macho HarrisDB
41James JohnsonRB
67Kyle JollyOT
4Byron LeftwichQB
15Wes LyonsWR
77John MaleckiG
46Chris McCoyLB
45Jamie McCoyTE
54Colin MillerC
14Armand RobinsonWR
9Daniel SepulvedaP
55Trevis TurnerOT
30Donovan WarrenCB
5Swayze WatersK

  • The One

    Can’t justify how you keep 4 TEs. Gilmore hasn’t shown a thing. Either BMac or Gay will be cut for Warren, and should be.

  • John21

    All in all, that’s a fair assessment. Shows how hard it is to make the roster. In my opinion, Wes Lyons should make the PS. He has great physical skills and with some polish could grow into a contributor particularly in the red zone. Also, I would like to see them get Anthony Gray back & put him on the PS. We need to develop a successor for Hampton. Ivy played well last night and I believe he earned a PS spot at least. IMO no way -as you said-that Saunders makes it through waivers. (Ed Boucette thinks otherwise.) His upside makes the risk too high–keep him on the roster. If it falls the way you believe, tough break for Battle who may have had his best camp ever as a WR.
    Lastly, is Grisham eligible for the PS? Thought after 2 years on the PS, you are done?? Love that guy’s heart and his skill. But, if it come down to him and Lyons as a future contributor to the Steelers, I’d have to take Lyons.

  • Grw1960

    I don’t see the lve for Grisham. Yes I know he has great hands, is a good guy and Tomlin seems to like him.
    But Lyons seems to be the better over all WR.
    I also love me some Hoke, but it is time for Mclendon to replace him. Mclendon played really well last night, is faster and more athletic.
    Also Butler one of my favorites showed a chink in his armor last night, after getting beat for that TD. He seemed to be down on himself and lost focus for a little while afterwards.
    Brown went the other way. After getting beat for that long reception. Brown made several nice plays.
    You are right about the CBs. Tough decisions there.

  • Kev4heels

    Don’t think Sep is gone…

  • Twokvin

    I don’t think they will keep John Gilmore, esp. since Essex can play TE in a pinch.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I like your list, but I don’t think we keep 4 TEs. I don’t know when the last time was that they did. Yeah, I know one of them is basically taking up a FB spot, but I am not sure. Here are the guys that I see that could swap.

    QB – Leftwich is the name to figure out here along with Dixon. If the team doesn’t feel Dixon will be the #2 at any point in the future, move him for whatever draft pick you can get. There are plenty of guys out there to be a #3 should you need someone in an emergency. Lefty is only about how long the injury will have him out. How long is too long? How long means cut vs. IR?

    WR – None leave, Battle joins. This would only be because of his specials teams contributions.

    TE – I think the battle still comes down to vet vs. youth here. Gilmore or Saunders goes.

    OL – I completely agree with you that the OL may be a waiver wire search. Colbert really needs to do his homework here. Even if they make the original 53, I could see Starks or Flozell brought back if one of our starters at T gets hurt. Foster, IMO, looked horrible last night.

    Those are the only changes I see potentially on offense. On to the D.

    Dline – This is all about 1 player, Hoke. He is getting older, but we have youth pushing him. At one point in his career Hoke was that guy, pushing the vet off the roster. Will the process come full circle, or will the team go with what it knows.

    LB – I personally don’t think Ivy or Harvey should make the squad at the moment, but that doesn’t remove my concerns about Carter either. Have we seen enough from him? If we have, why did we try to get Gibson. This is a waiver spot IMO. If a guy LIKE Gibson goes on waivers, a guy we trust is an upgrade, I think Carter could go. When it comes to Foote, he stays for this year. Next year he might not be so lucky, but this year he survives. Next year we will draft or sign Farrior’s long-term replacement so another young ILB will be in the fold. One of the vets will need to go.

    CB – Warren is the only question mark IMO here. I would love for Gay to be a question mark, but I think he is safe. Warren has the skills to play in our zone scheme, but his speed is a concern in m2m. Injuries might favor him getting the spot of only carrying 3 TEs. Do we have a CB who hasn’t been hurt at some point this preseason? Ike, McFadden, Lewis, Allen, Brown…they all have missed some time being banged up. That leaves Gay, Warren, and Butler (did he miss some too) injury free this preseason.

    Summary – I change one thing about your list above. Out Gilmore, In Warren. The injuries are too risky with the level of inexperience we have at the CB position to have the luxury of trying to milk the TE position along. In addition, it is more likely that Gilmore is still around week 3 or 4 if we have an injury at TE than it is that Warren will be there. Too many teams have been banged up at the position.

  • Joe D

    I liked your 4.0 better…
    I think 6 WR’s… and 3 TE’s… disagree with you on that… therfore, I don’t see Gilmore on the list… and I would go with the tall fella Lyons at WR. I’m partial to the youth movement as backup.
    I agree with you regarding the punter situation…
    Interesting… waive Leftwich instead of IR.

  • Dabbate95

    I think Hoke has got to go, McLenden makes team and John Clay is on the practice squad in his spot.

    Also I think Gilmore gets cut. Saunders has looked OK blocking and has too much potential, like you said. I would rather have an extra OL can always use Hill or Essex as a blocking TE.

  • Aaron

    I am curious about Warren. He ran a similar 40 time (4.5) to both William Gay and Crezdon Butler. In addition, with the amount of off-man and zone the Steelers play, recognition and positioning seem to be more important than pure speed. He always seems to be around the ball and making plays.

    He would be a nice upgrade over Gay in ability and Mcfadden in durability.

  • Johnny_S

    Just curious Dave, why are you so hooked on John Gilmore? All he offers is blocking. I’d rather use Essex or Foster as a flex TE for blocking and free up the roster spot for talent else where.

  • SteelersDepot

    The extra tight end is merely a preliminary depth move as I sort of stated above. Gilmore is a better blocker in my eyes than Spaeth was thus far. Saunders too talented to keep off the roster. As I stated it came down to Gilmore & Ivy for the 53rd spot and I chose TE depth over a 9 th LB I think can clear waivers. Kapinos over Sepulveda was merely a gut feeling based on Sepulveda knee history.

  • Lantz48

    no way they keep 3tight ends, gilmore gets cut. hoke was out played by mCclendon and you save some money with mCclendon. m.moore could be a cut with redmond coming on and jon clay looks to have quick feet for a big man so memo could be let go. Ivy may make it and battle will make the 53.

  • Steeler Nation VA

    Trai can only back up so many positions. Hell he ould back up BB too.

  • Awenterprizez

    Donovan Warren should make the roster. I keep hearing you guys saying he is slow that’s not the case. The kid had surgery on his ankle. and played all year at michigan on it then he re injured it prior to the combine. this kid ran 10.5 100 meters in high school and also ran 4.4 this summer he’s healthy again and he can run. As far as you saying he can’t run he’s usually in a 2man which is a trail technique in the steelers defense. Get your facts straight before you guys down the kid.. He’s a player…

  • Fatxbrian

    No love for Donovan Warren? I thought he played pretty good. Atleast to earn a pratice squad spot.

  • Skbrons

    Steve McLendon could be the future as ethier backup or possible starter. Both Hoke and Casey will need a replacement soon. Hard call. If McLendon is waived, he will be picked up by another team. 3-4 NT are not easy to find. Better to keep 3 NT with a look at near future than 4 TE on one preseason look.

  • Joe D

    Have the Steelers EVER kept 4 TE’s???
    I don’t think so…
    and being that the NFL has become more of a passing game, I see 6 WR’s kept.
    Do you have last years final roster for the 1st game? That would be good from a comparison perspective as far as number of players for each position. The coaches haven’t changed since last year.

  • Goodanalyst

    Arnaz Battle will and should make the team. No need for 4 tight ends. There is probably one or two other minor surprises but Battle is versatile and I think has earned a spot.

  • SteelersDepot

    Hate to say I told you so on Warren.

  • Steve Duncan

    I see where you are coming from there, but my thought is when you are talking about the 3rd TE spot, is it worth keeping a fourth to protect that guy while he develops? Gilmore is what he is, I don’t see much upside there. Cut him for McLendon.

  • Steve Duncan

    I thought we did Johnson’s first year?

  • Steve Duncan