It is time to review my final 53 man roster projection for the Pittsburgh Steelers from this year, and although I had 50 of 53 names correct, I get a failing grade because the goal is to hit all 53.
On offense I nailed 24 of 25 players and I could kick myself for not reading the tea leaves correctly in regard to Trai Essex and Kelvin Beachum. The move to keep Beachum, and not Essex, makes good sense because Beachum plays on the left side and Essex played all at right tackle. I knew Essex would never be considered for the left side of the line, and once Ramon Foster proved he could play right tackle during the preseason, and we knew David DeCastro would stick initially on the 53 to qualify for the 8 week injured reserve, Beachum was the right call. When you consider that Essex, if kept, would have most likely been a week one inactive player, it made no sense to keep him and guarantee his full base salary. It\'s easy to say you understand the decision after the fact, but I really do, and should have thought that decision through better. Live and learn.
I am glad that I saw the 5 running backs, 4 wide receivers, 1 fullback and 3 tight ends coming, but it was a no-brainer to me after studying the personnel groupings of Todd Haley and how much both Baron Batch and David Paulson were used in the preseason on special teams.
On defense, I picked Al Woods as the winner of the 4th defensive end spot, but only because Corbin Bryant had practice squad eligibility left. In the end, Bryant wasn\'t even signed to the practice squad. I wish I could tell you that Woods outplayed Bryant, but really I saw it as a dead heat.
My decision to keep Terrence Frederick was a foolish one and I probably would have only have kept four cornerbacks had I not been scared off by the knee injury that Curtis Brown reportedly suffered in the final preseason game, just hours before I turned in my final projection. Even if they had kept five, it appears that they liked Josh Victorian, as he was signed to the practice squad, so I would have missed this one anyways.
Adrian Robinson, who I have been high on since the OTA practices, I had slated for the practice squad because of his position. I figured that James Harrison and Jason Worilds would both be healthy enough to play in Denver, and even though Stevenson Sylvester would be down, and Sean Spence was lost for the season, I thought they would have went 8 linebackers until Tuesday, when they might move DeCastro to injured reserve. Had I put a ninth linebacker here, it would have been Marshall McFadden because he plays inside, a position the Steelers got thin at when Spence was lost for the season and with Sylvester likely down for the opener. It had nothing to do with not liking Robinson, it was just how I saw the numbers falling.
I knew they would keep 5 safeties and I chose Damon Cromartie-Smith over Robert Golden because of his experience in the defense and his play on special teams. I like Golden, and have for a while, but did not give him enough credit to also play cornerback in a pinch should the need arise. Golden is a fine prospect and I can see him possibly being the heir apparent to Ryan Clark. Another thing that I chose to ignore in my decision is that Cromartie-Smith is a strong safety, while Golden is a free safety. I put too much emphasis on special teams and not enough on the actual position. I study this stuff so much that I sometimes choose to ignore the obvious and tend to over think things.
The specialist were easy to call, especially after Jeremy Kapinos never punted.
Practice squad wise, I got 4 of 8 right, but I should have seen 2 wide receivers being kept with only 4 being kept on the 53. After all, they needed the practice bodies. I was surprised that John Malecki was kept and Bryant wasn\'t. Ryan Lee and McFadden were easy calls in my eyes.
In summation, I do these with the goal of being perfect and it is a healthy exercise to learn roster construction and why certain players are kept over others. 50 out 53 is good, but I really expected to hit at least 52, if not the entire 53.
Oh well, there is always next year and I will try again right after the 2013 draft is over. I hope you enjoyed these exercises as much as I like doing them.