With the Pittsburgh Steelers reporting to Latrobe for training camp on Friday, it’s now time for the latest installment of my 53 man roster prediction. If you would like to see my previous version, it is right here.
In the comments below, tell me the selections you disagree with and which player makes it instead. How many of these 53 are locks?
My next 53 prediction will come after the Steelers first preseason game against the New York Giants.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Analysis: This group is pretty easy to nail down.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer
Analysis: These three are givens, but you have to wonder if a third such as Alvester Alexander will be needed. He’s certainly one to watch during training camp and the preseason and especially whenever he’s out there on special teams.
Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: Johnson is really the only true fullback on the roster right now and he’s a heck of a pass catcher that could stand to be utilized more in the passing game.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown
Analysis: I have finally decided to sip a little on the Justin Brown Kool-Aid. The reason I am keeping six in this group is because of all of the youth and inexperience. Also, I really think Heyward-Bey as more of a 53rd player and that means he can contribute on special teams. Apologies to Derek Moye.
Tight Ends (4) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Paulson, Rob Blanchflower
Analysis: I really am not sure about Paulson making it, but the Steelers really don’t need Spaeth to play on special teams if at all possible. Also, should Miller go down for any amount of time, Paulson, bad blocking and all, would at least be a legitimate pass catching option until Blanchflower is up to speed. We’ll see how this goes and hopefully Paulson made some big strides during the offseason when it comes to his blocking.
Offensive Line (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Cody Wallace, Wesley Johnson
Analysis: Seven spots are locked up already and now we wait and see if the final number is eight or nine. With Adams serving as the swing tackle and Wallace the swing guard, is there really a reason to keep Guy Whimper? Face it, if whimper was to get cut, he likely would stay unemployed for a little while. I’m really excited to see the rookie Johnson play during the preseason. Can he play guard? Will he be given some snaps at right tackle? His performance during camp and the preseason could make a big difference in the final numbers.
Defensive Lineman (6) – Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Brett Keisel, Hebron Fangupo
Analysis: I realize that i will continue to take flack for keeping Keisel on the roster even though he’s not even under contract right now, but I feel this defensive line can still use him. I do like Brian Arnfelt, but still view him and Nick Williams as serious projects and would worry if either had to play a huge amount of snaps. Until I see rookie Daniel McCullers pass Fangupo on the depth chart, I have to leave him off. I’m keeping Fangupo as an extra big-bodied nose tackle who will likely be inactive for several weeks.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin
Analysis: Hopefully Spence can stay on track during the preseason. If he’s able to, there really won’t be a need to keep rookie draft pick Jordan Zumwalt. As for Garvin, his play on special teams should be enough to keep him around and there’s rumblings that he might see some time at outside linebacker during the preseason as well.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Arthur Moats
Analysis: It doesn’t look like James Harrison is going to be signed, so I will go with the obvious four players here. As previously mentioned, Garvin might add some depth to the position. As I wrote in a previous article, this group really looks shaky heading into training camp. I could see a total of ten linebackers keep and if that’s the case, Zumwalt might be able to sneak onto the 53. For now, I have them keeping nine.
Cornerbacks (5) – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Shaquille Richardson, Antwon Blake
Analysis: I was tempted to keep Brice McCain as a sixth cornerback, but due to a few of the safeties having position flexibility, I have chosen to keep him off this time around. McCain doesn’t have much upside plus he’s not an extremely great special teams player. Blake, on the other hand, is.
Safeties (5) – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden, Will Allen
Analysis: As previously mentioned, both Thomas and Golden can play in the slot should a need arise. On top of that, Golden is a pretty good special teams player and will likely be the upback once again this season. Will head coach Mike Tomlin keep Allen around for one more season as a safety safety blanket? (see what I did there?) I say yes.
Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham
Analysis: Suisham remains the only placekicker on the roster heading into training camp.
Punter (1) – Adam Podlesh
Analysis: I really don’t have a clue how this will work out. I’m rooting for Brad Wing to win the job and hold the position for several years to come, but until I see him punt during the preseason, I will go with the veteran Podlesh this time around.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: Until Warren is dethroned, you can’t bet against him. As soon as the team needs a roster spot during training camp, Bryce Davis might be gone.
Practice Squad (8) – Alvester Alexander, Brian Arnfelt, Isaiah Green, Howard Jones, Vic So’oto, Chris Hubbard, Emmanuel McCray, Jordan Zumwalt
Analysis: Alexander, Arnfelt, Hubbard and Green were all pretty much fixtures last year on the practice squad, so a few of them should carry over this year. Jones and So’oto are for outside depth, while Zumwalt is both inside and outside capable. McCray is just a hunch.
2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Training Camp
|PRACTICE SQUAD (8)|