Kozora: Steelers 2014 53 Man Roster Prediction – Post Third Preseason Game Edition

By Alex Kozora

The fifth and next to last attempt at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster as we roll into the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. This article has been written before the announcement of their first 15 cuts.

Feel free to add in with your input below.

Offense (24)

Quarterbacks (2) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski

Analysis: I’ve said all I can say about the position. Landry Jones does figure to get extensive work on Thursday. At least a half, perhaps more. Even so, I’m far from convinced that an adequate showing is enough to keep him on the roster. In my eyes at least, it shouldn’t.

Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer

Analysis: Tauren Poole missing last week’s game just about nixes his chances. And with Bell and Blount’s punishment being extra playing time, Josh Harris didn’t see a snap on offense. Although I’m not including it on my roster, adding a fourth back would come as little surprise. The short list of names to keep in mind include: Brandon Bolden, Alex Green, and Joe Banyard.

Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson

Analysis: Status quo.

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

Analysis: Wide receiver went from being a “chalk” position two weeks ago to being very fluid now. Could Justin Brown go from receiving first team reps to being cut? I suppose it’s possible but still don’t see it as the likely scenario. He did get chewed out once Thursday but he still doesn’t have the issue of a string of negative plays Bryant does. I’ll admit I had Heyward-Bey crossed off this roster two weeks into camp and now, he’s got a shot. When healthy, he’s been productive and receiving more looks on special teams. He’s still no guarantee and becomes an obvious choice for a gameday inactive. But I’ll stretch my neck out on this one.

Tight Ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer

Analysis: This third spot still baffles me. Throw a dart, pick a name out of a hat, you’ll have as good of a guess as I do. Palmer played on two first team special teams units – the edge protector on punt protection/coverage and field goal protection – over David Paulson in Thursday’s game. He’s also the better blocker and that’s the only viable use for a #3 TE.

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

Analysis: Can’t bring myself to make any changes here. Think Mike Munchak gets his way by keeping nine lineman.

Defense (25)

Defensive Lineman (6) – Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Daniel McCullers

Analysis: No differences from last time. No reason to keep a fifth defensive end when these six are all end-capable. McCullers is the one player who I wouldn’t expect to make it through waivers unclaimed. Combine his measurable with tape that shows him doing things most nose tackles can’t do, like chase running backs 16 yards downfield, and someone would pull the trigger.

Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin

Analysis: All five can rest comfortably. No threat of a cut here.

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

Analysis: I know Jones is the flavor of the month but my brain tells me he is destined for the practice squad. Two weeks ago, linebackers coach Keith Butler referred to Jones as “very, very raw”. Those types of players rarely make a 53. It’s not as if Jones has taken the league by storm in his opportunities, either. He has zero sacks and only one or two hurries.

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

Analysis: No changes here. We’re close to writing in ink McCain being active on game day. He filled in as the nickelback for the one play William Gay missed. Combine that with first team special teams’ work, and you have a player who is going to dress.

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

Analysis: Only way this changes is if Will Allen gets cut. Doesn’t seem likely. Jordan Dangerfield is out of the picture.

Specialists (4)

Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham

Analysis: No explanation needed. Though Suisham’s misses have started to become concerning.

Punter (1) – TBA

Analysis: Cop out here. But Brad Wing had an ugly showing Thursday. Is anyone confident that he can be consistent over a full season? Look for the Steelers to explore the waiver wire.

Long Snapper (2) – Luke Ingram, Greg Warren

Analysis: We’ll see if Warren can make it back for the start of the season. Going to take a stab at it and say he misses the first week. Bryce Davis did start Thursday’s game but my money is still on Ingram, who has a little more experience under him.

Practice Squad (10) – Rob Blanchflower, Ethan Hemer, Chris Hubbard, Howard Jones, Landry Jones, Josh Mauro, Tauren Poole, Shaquille Richardson, Devin Smith, Ross Ventrone

Analysis: Bit the bullet and cut Zumwalt outright. Could Richardson be next? It’s not realistic to think three late round rookies who have missed significant amounts of time are all going to be able to find a home.

Hemer and Smith are hunches. If the team adds a fourth running back to the 53, consider Poole to be expendable. Ventrone plays with as much effort as anyone. Perfect scout team material. He’ll likely yo-yo on and off the roster again.

Howard Jones shuffles down to the practice squad.

Although part of me wanted to keep him because of his scout team value, Eric Waters lost out to the numbers crunch. With six receivers on the 53, Derek Moye can be cut.

Remember one spot could become available if one of these ten are promoted to the 53 following Warren’s return.

Game Day Inactives (7): Mike Adams, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wesley Johnson, Daniel McCullers, Greg Warren

2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Post Third Preseason Game Edition

OFFENSE (23)
Roethlisberger, BenQB
Gradkowski, BruceQB
Brown, AntonioWR
Wheaton, MarkusWR
Moore, LanceWR
Brown, JustinWR
Bryant, MartavisWR
Heyward-Bey, DarriusWR
Miller, HeathTE
Spaeth, MattTE
Palmer, MichaelTE
Bell, Le’VeonRB
Blount, LeGarretteRB
Archer, DriRB
Johnson, WillFB
Pouncey, MaurkiceC
DeCastro, DavidG
Foster, RamonG
Beachum, KelvinT/G
Gilbert, MarcusT
Adams, MikeT
Wallace, CodyC/G
Whimper, GuyT/G
Johnson, WesleyC/G/T
DEFENSE (26)
Taylor, IkeCB
Allen, CortezCB
Gay, WilliamCB
Blake, AntwonCB
McCain, BriceCB
Polamalu, TroyS
Mitchell, MikeS
Thomas, ShamarkoS
Golden, RobertS
Allen, WillS
Heyward, CameronDE
McLendon, SteveNT/DE
Tuitt, StephonDE
Thomas, CamDE/NT
Keisel, BrettDE
McCullers, DanielNT
Timmons, LawrenceILB
Shazier, RyanILB
Williams, VinceILB
Spence, SeanILB
Garvin, TerenceILB/OLB
Worilds, JasonOLB
Jones, JarvisOLB
Carter, ChrisOLB
Moats, ArthurOLB
SPECIALISTS (4)
Warren, GregLS
Ingram, LukeLS
Suisham, ShaunK
TBAP
PRACTICE SQUAD (10)
Jones, LandryQB
Jones, HowardOLB
Richardson, ShaquilleCB
Poole, TaurenRB
Mauro, JoshDE
Smith, DevinCB
Blanchflower, RobTE
Hemer, EthanDE
Hubbard, ChrisG
Ventrone, RossTE

Senior in college, blogging from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • steeltown

    Brandon Bolden would be a solid acquisition. Ventrone still has PS eligibility?

  • Steelers12328882

    Who would you rather have on special teams, Justin Brown or DHB?

  • Bradys_Dad

    As much as I like to think that I’m an optimist, one look at this roster and all that comes to mind is 8-8 again. Average at best. Our OLBs and CBs are not good enough to hold down the fort while the DL attempts to apply “pressure?” The WR grouping has 1 super nova in AB but no other stars in this galaxy. The OL may be the what saves this team (who ever thought that’d be the case?) by keeping Ben upright for another year. As anemic as our offense has been, shouldn’t we at least have a stellar punter to give the D a hope and prayer after we go 3 and out (again)? Even the normally sure footed Suisham has had a rough pre-season. Put this in a burlap sack and hand it to this coaching staff in its’ current iteration and the best I come up with is average. I really hope that I’m wrong and that Snoop Dog didn’t hit the nail on the head.

  • Jake Miller

    I think they at least try to give Zumwalt a chance. Why would they keep 6 receivers just to make 2 of them inactive on gameday. I’m thinking 5.

  • T R

    Finally you put DHB on the 53… thanks you :)

  • Steelers12328882

    I can’t believe Chris Carter will most likely make this team. It just gives you some perspective on the teams overall roster when a guy that bad has no one to push him off.

  • Soliciting Steelers

    I don’t see why you and Dave keep carrying 3 TEs when Will Johnson/Mike Adams are 3rd TE capapble. Cut Paulson, Palmer, Blanchflower, and carry your 5th OLB or 7th DL or 6th CB…!

  • Soliciting Steelers

    DHB is a no-brainer

  • Soliciting Steelers

    No more Pats RBs plz, the last one made our Rb of the future a pot-head! :)

  • pat

    Cant really blame blount maybe bell was the influence maybe bell was one of the players ryan clark was talking about

  • dgh57

    Justin Brown is the no-brainer! He has 79 career punt returns for 637 yards and a TD. Meanwhile, DHB had zilch Special Teams experience in his 6 years in the NFL until last season with the Colts and none as a punt returner. JB would work fine as a backup PR for us.

  • Soliciting Steelers

    I assume you meant Antonio Brown? not Justin

  • steeltown

    No, dgh57 meant Justin Brown

  • http://thereactionblog.com Michael Stickings

    Good list. I’m not sure I see 6 WRs at this point — I’d move Brown to the PS and keep DHB on the 53 (but, then, I’ve been a big DHB fan all offseason). And that leaves room for a RB acquisition. And then maybe HoJo moves up once we can go down to one LS. At TE, I just wish Blanchflower had shown the ability to move in right away as the #3, because the other two alternatives are hardly inspiring.

  • NW86

    He meant Justin, those are his college stats.

  • Steelers12328882

    Special teams.

  • Steelers12328882

    Hmmm that’s a good point I suppose, but has he been the PR at all this preseason? I’m just asking, because if both make the roster and one of them is inactive on game days than the other one has to make an impact on special teams. Is backup PR really an impact? I would think the more important role would be gunner or some other position. I have no clue on who has done what and how well they performed on special teams this preseason.

  • T R

    exactly pat.. weed heads just don’t spring up after meeting and hanging out with your team mate.

  • steeltown

    Against the Eagles it looks like JB played 2nd Team Kick Coverage and DHB was on 2nd Team Punt Coverage, also it looks like DHB was 1st Team gunner and JB was 2nd Team gunner.

    Also of note, JB did participate in punt drills in camp and also caught 6 balls at once in the punt return competition

  • Steelers12328882

    So it would seem DHB is slightly ahead of JB in that regard, but who knows how it will play out. This is why I’m so excited to see these 2 in the next game. Good competition. Hope there’s a similar one at TE too.

  • steeltown

    In theory yes, but JB could also in theory serve as reserve punt returner

  • JohnB

    I think Mccain and DHB have the opportunity to show that they were misused on other teams. Hope they do well.

  • steeltown

    I think Moats fits that category as well

  • Soliciting Steelers

    a 5th OLB can serve all the same on ST…I’d take Howard Jones over Paulson on ST :)

  • ND_Steel

    I so hope you are right on Laundry Jones. To carry this guy on the 53 would be such a waste.

  • ND_Steel

    I agree, though I’m not as high on the O Line and everyone seems to be, especially in the run game. Our O Line and RBs seem to be a mismatch; big backs with no maulers up front. Tackles are adequate, hope Beachum continues to progress and Gilbert stays healthy. Pouncey and DeCastro are technicians not pile movers. Foster is the only big man, and I worry his knee may be an issue. If that brings Wallace into the mix, then what? Pouncey to guard? The good thing is we have great blocking TEs in Spaeth and Miller, but putting both of them on the field really limits our offensive options as neither gets down the field well.

  • DB84

    I know it won’t happen because of special teams play but If they keep 9LB I would rather they cut Carter and sign James Harrison since both are only one year players and Harrison could actually help with his play and push Jones as well

  • Bradys_Dad

    Very true on all fronts. Perhaps my optimism with the OL is a bit premature.

  • Steelers12328882

    I suppose, but then I guess it would come down to what role on special teams, tackling or blocking.

  • dgh57

    My hope going into TC was for JB to serve both as the #4 WR and backup PR and so dress for most games and thus be there in case of injuries to Archer. Seems he’s not getting much of a look there so it’s disappointing to me because I feel he has the capability as a PR. I also feel we have the gunner(s) positions filled with faster guys like Blake and Shark but he is capable on the coverage/return units.

  • Roger (G.)

    Dump Chris Carter and sign James….yesterday.

  • BFB

    Hate the drop off behind starting OLBs but oh well. As far as bringing James back, you would think they would already be working that if they thought he was a better option than the bodies in camp. Cincy cut James for a good reason. He was cheap but a cheap car that only runs 50% of the time is not a great bargain. I love James and loved him in Black and Gold but he is done. There are 31 teams besides Pittsburgh and he has received zero interest. Sometimes the writing on the wall is nothing but the truth.

  • Alex Kozora

    The new rules make it confusing and Ventrone’s extensive transaction history doesn’t help matters. But I don’t think he has more than two accrued seasons so yes, he should be eligible.

  • Alex Kozora

    Pretty much no matter how you stack up your roster, you’re going to be have two positions with two inactives. Unless you do something like keep Landry Jones. I’ll pass.

  • Alex Kozora

    In case of injury. Lose a TE and you really limit yourself. Can’t run 22 or Heavy personnel anymore. Plus, as said, the ST value.

  • Alex Kozora

    Very difficult to be able to keep 5 OLBs active on game day.

  • Alex Kozora

    Moats is actually giving me a lot of confidence at OLB. Don’t think Deebo is needed anymore.

  • BFB

    He has been playing well and there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm on the part of coaching staff. I hope he keeps improving. We will need depth guys to step up sometime during the season. Inevitable.
    I think you are pretty spot on in your predictions. Still would like to see Moye stick around somehow. What have you thought of Lance Moore’s production/performance. I think we downgraded in swapping out Cotchery for this guy.

  • Shea Fahr

    If L. Jones shows a consistent game at QB, he is in. They do like him and really want him to take that second spot in the future. Palmer vs Paulson is a toss up for me.

  • Steve

    Good point!

  • Steve

    And if the ball is thrown to DHB, good chance he’ll drop it.

  • Eddy

    Alex: Now that we know Luke Ingram has been waived, who gets his roster spot?

    I’m betting on *gulp* Landry Jones.

    The only change I would make is Paulson for Palmer. I can’t really say I’m a fan of either, I would have liked to see a rook win that spot.

  • http://suspect5.bandcamp.com/ HardPunkKore

    it would have to be bryce davis. someone has to long snap while warren is sidelined.

  • Rubem Dornas

    We need a 1st round CB next year.

  • Jake Miller

    I suppose you’re right. I need to see a little more from DHB I think, but at the same time, Justin Brown hasn’t shown up much in preseason. Not sure. Agreed on Jones though. I don’t see any progress at all.

  • T R

    Everyone drops balls, but if he can strength the field and make the defense be honest and have to account for him so that others can get open.. job well done as well.

  • Mark_K

    Any idea on how Hubbard fared in the Philly game? I know he mostly faced their 3rd team D line, but I still wonder if he doesn’t have a shot at the active roster. Inactive most weeks, but if a guard were injured give him the start and keep Wallace active as the backup C/G. He was 2nd team all camp and got the nod to go first team also. Seems like he is closer to ready to have to play against a first team DL than Wesley Johnson. ANy idea if the fractured finger has affected Cody Wallace practicing?