Before we get into the individual roster battles that will begin to take place when the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe in six weeks, let\’s have a look at how many roster spots are legitimately up for grabs now that the team has wrapped up their offseason practices.
Quarterbacks (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
These three spots have been set in stone ever since the Steelers selected Jones in the fourth round of the draft and while the Oklahoma product has reportedly struglled some during the offseason practices, there is no way that he doesn\’t make the team.
Running backs (1): Le\’Veon Bell
While I am very tempted to add LaRod Stephens-Howling to this list, good arguments can be made against him being a roster lock right now. The Steelers will more than likely keep at least four running backs in total, so as you can clearly see that this will be one of the most exciting position battles to watch later on this summer.
Fullbacks (1): Will Johnson
I dare you to make an argument against Johnson making the roster, as he has the potential to be one of the best all-around fullbacks that the Steelers have had in several years. Johnson is one of the few players that general manager Kevin Colbert gushed about during the offseason, so he\’s not going anywhere.
Wide receivers (4): Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Markus Wheaton
Much like the quarterback position, these four spots became locked in stone as soon as the Steelers drafted Wheaton in the third-round back in April. The only thing we don\’t know for sure right now is if the team will choose to keep five or six total wide receivers on the roster. I\’m willing to bet it will only be five.
Tight ends (2): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth
Much like the running back position, I am tempted to list David Paulson as a roster lock, but being as good arguments can be made that he shouldn\’t be, I will leave him off for now. The Steelers brought back Spaeth during the offseason for a reason and there is no way he doesn\’t make the roster unless of course he gets injured during camp. The Steelers will obviously keep at least one more tight end in addition to these two.
Offensive Linemen (6): Maukice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Kelvin Beachum
We know that these six will make the roster, but beyond that nobody should be considered a lock. At the very least the Steelers will keep eight offensive linemen in total, but likely not more than nine.
Defensive Linemen (5): Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Al Woods
While some of you might question Woods being on the list, it is obvious that the Steelers are trying to maximize his position flexibility during the offseason for a reason. With these five set in stone that leaves potentially one more roster spot open should the team carry six defensive linemen in total. Could they carry seven? Yes, but I would be surprised if they did.
Linebackers (7): Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Jarvis Jones, Vince Williams
When linebackers coach Keith Butler listed Carter as a depth player that he can depend on behind the starters this past week, this made him a roster lock in my eyes. While there certainly will be other roster battles at both the inside and outside spots during training camp, Carter\’s spot is safe. No, I haven\’t forgotten about Sean Spence, but I do think he will start the season on the PUP list. In my eyes, there are at least two roster spots to be had here in addition to these seven players and possibly even three.
Cornerbacks (4): Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown
Brown\’s special teams play alone is enough to roster lock him in June and there is no way that they give up on him being a future defensive contributor after just two seasons. Now, will the Steelers need one or two more cornerbacks in addition to these four?
Safeties (4): Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas
These four are easy to lock in and it might be the only four safeties that they keep being as they consider Gay as a potential emergency safety.
Specialist (1): Shaun Suisham
Suisham had a career year in 2012 and has a history with new special teams coach Danny Smith. As far as the punting and long snapping jobs go, both are wide open right now considering the problems the Steelers had at the two positions last season.
The above players total out to 38 so that means there are 15 spots up for grabs right now. Let\’s look at what positions will definitely be filled based on easy to speculate minimums.
RB (3) WR (1) TE (1) OL (2) LB (2) CB (1) P (1) LS (1)
Those above open roster spots are minimums only and they total up to be 12, so that leaves three additional spots yet to be filled.
Steelers 2013 Roster Locks