Kozora: Steelers 2014 53 Man Roster Prediction – Training Camp Edition

By Alex Kozora

My second crack at projecting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster. Something I’m sure we can all look back at and make fun of in a few weeks.

If you listened to me on The Terrible Podcast, you already know my roster. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

Couple of things I want to preface with before I start listing my 53.

This is all very fluid and subject to change. Once I start watching practice and more importantly, evaluating games, my opinion is going to change. Common sense, but still something worth pointing out.

As I said in on the podcast, I wanted to leave two rookies off the 53. This roughly matches the 75% clip Mike Tomlin has in his tenure.

With that in mind, your 53.

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (2)Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski

Analysis: It may be a shock to carry just two quarterbacks but that is the growing trend in the NFL. It’s extremely unlikely Jones ever becomes starting-material and I’m a staunch believer in signing veterans with game-day experience to be the backup – like Gradkowski – over attempting to groom players like Jones. Jones can be sent to the practice squad, freeing up a roster spot for someone who may actually contribute.

Running Backs (4)Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer, TBA

Analysis: It seems unlikely the team would carry just three running backs, something they’ve only done once since 2008. Though he’ll have an opportunity, I simply don’t think someone like Alvester Alexander is talented enough to make a 53. It’s obviously hard to speculate who that fourth running back could be. Perhaps the team brings back LaRod Stephens-Howling. Or they pick up a player at the final cutdown. The Detroit Lions’ Mikel Leshoure is a name that comes to mind.

Fullbacks (1)Will Johnson

Analysis: He may be spending time in meetings with the tight ends, but he’s still a piece of the backfield puzzle to me. Barring something catastrophic, he’ll easily earn his job.

Wide Receivers (6)Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Brown

Analysis: Heavy at the position, but for the first time in the last couple years, the Steelers have quality depth. Justin Brown squeaks in with the last spot of my 53. Heyward-Bey could excel as a special-teamer and his veteran experience would come in handy should one of the top three go down.

Tight Ends (3)Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Rob Blanchflower

Analysis: This group feels pretty certain to me although I know Dave Bryan currently has David Paulson penciled in as the fourth tight end. I just can’t live in a world where Paulson makes another roster.

Offensive Line (9) – Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Guy Whimper, Mike Adams, Cody Wallace, Wesley Johnson

Analysis:  Analysis:  Johnson could be shipped to the practice squad but I keep him on the 53 for now. I’m not high on him but he offers potential value as a swing player. Guy Whimper’s Sunday experience at four positions can’t be overlooked. Mike Adams should be feeling heat on his roster spot. If Mike Munchak can’t work with him, who can?

Defense (25)

Defensive Lineman (6)Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Roy Philon, Brian Arnfelt

Analysis: Tough group to project. Leaving only one “true” nose tackle on here. If McLendon gets hurt, Cam Thomas would become the nose tackle before Hebron Fangupo or Daniel McCullers. Meaning, there isn’t much of a reason to keep the latter two, especially when McCullers can get stashed on the practice squad. Philon is my UDFA sleeper, much like Arnfelt became last year.

Inside Linebackers (5)Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Jordan Zumwalt

Analysis: Last spot comes down to Zumwalt vs Sean Spence. If Spence can show he’s close to where he was at pre-injury, the spot is his. But the severity of the knee injury can’t be forgotten, and until I see it, I have to bet against him. Very fluid situation, however.

Outside Linebackers (4)Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Chris Carter

Analysis: Nothing ground-breaking here. Keep an eye on Vic So’oto. He could push Carter off the roster if he shows value on special teams. At 263 pounds, he interests me. Plus, he’s made 53 man rosters before once earning a helmet with the Green Bay Packers.

Cornerbacks (5)Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Brice McCain

Analysis: McCain and Shaquille Richardson will compete for the last spot. Do like having a veteran in McCain at the back end of my roster even if he’s long on talent. Can’t keep getting the knowledge that only one signed free agent has failed to make this team under Kevin Colbert. History sides with McCain.

Safety (5)Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden

Analysis: A real strength of this team. Thomas can be used as a slot corner in the event of injury, Allen provides a lot of comfort on the back-end of the roster, and Golden shows his worth as the upback. Don’t see how anyone is getting cut.

Specialists (3)

Kicker (1)Shaun Suisham

Analysis: It’s going to be a lonely camp for Sushi. Oh, the life of a kicker…

Punter (1)Brad Wing

Analysis: Your guess is as good as mine. Subject to change once we see these guys actually punt. Wing has a much stronger leg. Can he be consistent?

Long Snapper (1)Greg Warren

Analysis: The saltine cracker of the roster. Not flashy but certainly not terrible either. Still, he struggled last year. Perhaps Bryce Davis pushes him.

Practice Squad (8)Daniel McCullers, Shaquille Richardson, Eric Waters, Will Simmons, Howard Jones, Miguel Maysonet, Isaiah Green, Landry Jones

Analysis: Mentioned some of these already. Waters could flash in the preseason with his athleticism but there isn’t any room for him on the 53. Simmons doesn’t fit the scheme but reminds me of Chris Kemoeatu. Big, powerful, and can pull, but limited in pass protection.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • ApexSteel

    McCain over Richardson? I can’t agree with that.

  • Paddy

    Spaeth???? what’s he done?

  • Kurt Williams

    Shaq would have to stink it up in camp and in pre-season, that’s the only way.

  • Weiss Chad

    Look how much more fluid they ran the ball w spaeth in there.Im willing to bet the farm barring an injury spaeth is penciled in on this roster.he is a really good blocker and barring something unforeseen this kid probably already made the team.

  • cencalsteeler

    Good analysis. I’d switch Richardson with McCain and I tend to think Howling is a distant memory with the drafting of Archer. I’d also give Alexander a leg up on Maysonet, but camp will sort that out.

  • Paddy

    When did he play?

  • Alex Kozora

    Dave’s study of free agents who make this team – all but one under Colbert – is convincing enough for now.

  • ApexSteel

    I don’t like to base decisions off of trends. McCain was terrible last year in the games I watched and if Richardson can’t even beat him out I don’t see much hope for him.

  • Steelers12328882

    Sorry. It’s the BEST 53 players. You can’t just make a case for a fourth RB but give him the TBA tag. I have a few other problems with this prediction. Those being Landry, Philon, Zumwalt, McCain and Golden. I do like the 6 WR prediction with Archer at RB.

  • Weiss Chad

    IMO that sixth d lineman is not on roster yet til after final cuts.I am hoping they only keep 3rb and one to ps.Love the idea of Landry jones to ps.Tottaly agree w six wr.I am really hoping carter has vastly improved or someone can knock him off roster.As a wildcard very interested in seeing what Goodwin can bring to wr group.I think Richardson will knock off McCain and make him second player Colbert brings in that gets sent packing.I have nothing to base this all on obviously as they still haven’t put on pads,just hoping right now.I said a cpl weeks ago I don’t think McCullers even makes ps but I’m starting to feel his size is to much to turn down.Still think he is a major project at best and Imo that’s all he will ever be.


    I do not think the “free-agent” history of making the team can be used this season, as we typically what pick up two? This off-season was awesome imo and was high on FA signings, and seemingly precision-like strikes in the draft, and because of this I don’t see us having waited until the 5th to draft a tall CB for Lake that doesn’t make the team over a short, slow special-teamer vet-minimum FA.