Marczi: 2017 Steelers Pre-Training Camp 53-Man Roster Prediction

It may be a day late, but, to be fair, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t practiced yet, so before we get things going and the pads start popping, I just wanted to get my first roster prediction on the record so we can look back and see in a couple of months just how wrong I am. So without further ado…

Offense (24):

Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs

No mysteries or surprises here, and really no explication needed. The pecking order is also more likely than not locked in for the season.

Running Back (4): Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Knile Davis, Roosevelt Nix

Bell is going to report at some point, and Conner is obviously going to make the roster. Davis is going to have a fight on his hands, and it’s possible that the team adds somebody else here as well, but at this point I give him an edge. Nix, of course, also remains.

Wide Receiver (6): Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey

Assuming Bryant gets fully reinstated, the first three here are locked in, and Rogers is a very near lock as well. Coates’ roster spot got more precarious with news of a lingering knee issue. He had at least three injuries last year. Let’s hope he gets healthy. DHB gets the edge until somebody outperforms him because of his special teams value.

Tight End (3): Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble

I think this group remains from last season. The two rookies are probably not going to have enough to show this summer to make it all that interesting, but should fight for a practice squad spot.

Offensive Line (8): Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, B.J. Finney, Jerald Hawkins, Chris Hubbard

The only debate here is whether or not the keep a ninth lineman, but with depth more valued elsewhere I just don’t think there’s room to swing it.

Defense (26):

Defensive Line (6): Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers

McCullers’ position is in my opinion the only one in jeopardy, but I do think it’s his spot to lose. Johnny Maxey will have to have a very very good camp, or McCullers a very very bad one.

Outside Linebacker (5): Bud Dupree, James Harrison, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams

Adams edges out veteran Arthur Moats. While money isn’t a big factor, he is a bit cheaper and obviously has more upside. But he has to endear himself on special teams.

Inside Linebacker (4): Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Steven Johnson

There are not enough roster spots this time to go around to keep more than four here. Matakevich and Johnson are the special teams standouts. L.J. Fort, though, is a guy they like with more athletic ability.

Cornerback (6): Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, William Gay, Cameron Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh, Senquez Golson

This is really more complicated than it has been in years past, and cornerback is as complicated as any. Golson needs to have a good camp to lock up his spot, and remain healthy, of course. It will be tough to cut Brian Allen, for sure, but at the moment I have him outside the bubble and making it to the practice squad.

Safety (5): Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield, Daimion Stafford

Stafford didn’t report but for now I’m assuming there’s a good reason. He doesn’t want to risk missing too much time though.

Specialist (3):

Kicker: Chris Boswell

The Steelers don’t even have another kicker in camp and they may not bring one in. Boswell is young and can handle it. Plus they all need to work on a rapport with a new long snapper.

Punter: Jordan Berry

The same argument for Boswell applies to Berry. Both are already solid at their jobs but still have upside.

Long Snapper: Colin Holba

With Greg Warren out of the picture, there aren’t many road blocks for Holba to take over at long snapper. He just needs to be consistent.

Practice Squad (10): WR Demarcus Ayers, TE Scott Orndoff, RB Terrell Watson, T Brian Mihalik, OL Ethan Cooper, DE Johnny Maxey, DT Lavon Hooks, ILB Keith Kelsey, CB Brian Allen, Player Not On Roster

I’m sure many are worried about losing Ayers off waivers, but he only has a few games under his belt. There’s a good chance he clears. Orndoff is a good developmental guy. Watson is a solid back who’s a good squad candidate. Mihalik has been around, and they seem to like Cooper’s potential. Maxey just misses the cut, and Hooks makes it to a practice squad finally. They could keep two inside linebackers here, or a safety. Allen obviously sticks because of his future potential, but Mike Hilton could be a good consolation prize if they end up losing him.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Lil Smitty

    I could see either Sensabaugh or Golsun making the team. Daimion Stafford absence could open he door for L.J. Fort. The really don’t have a mike LB except Shazier.
    Brian Allen is my player that will never pass waivers. He will make a few Interceptions in preseason and look good enough that other teams would want him because of his measurable.

  • Sam Clonch

    On the CB spot you say Allen on the practice squad, but then you don’t list him on the PS.

  • dany

    I’m certain Golson would be claimed before Allen. And I really doubt all of the sudden two steelers DB’s garner so much waiver interest. Allen will be fine

  • Steeler Nation!

    Add Player to be named later at ILB, drop 1 safety. Hunter will most likely make the roster over DHB. We need more red zone targets.

  • Iulo

    I love you selected Keion ahead of Moats… would like to see it really!!!
    hope Brian Allen is not cut, but how not to? could be disaster if PIT loses him on waivers…
    I might be biased, but I don’t like (the aligator) Coates…

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Thought you had done a post-draft prediction and only see two changes. Ladarius Green is of course gone so you have a 5th safety in Daimion Stafford and Keion Adams stock has risen to replace Art Moats.

  • Rocksolid20

    Moats can play inside or out , I feel that gives him an edge .

  • Kenneth Wilt

    My thoughts:

    QB, RB, TE, and OLine are spot on. I think those are pretty set.

    WR is really the spot to watch on offense. Everything else is pretty well set I think.

    Dline – It really comes down to are they willing to not have a true backup NT on the roster. If they are, I think Maxey could make it, but I also wonder if they believe he can make it to the PS.

    ILB – I wonder if we look for some more experience at the backup spots, but with what we currently have, I think we go this route. Is there any chance Moats could move inside? Didn’t he play inside in Buffalo?

    OLB – I think the battle here is really Moats vs. Adams. Adams has a ton of potential. I truly believe that, but I don’t see the Steelers cutting the vet at this point. I wonder if instead of an extra S, they would carry 6 OLB and 4 ILB on the roster?

    S – Dangerfield, Golden and Stafford (if he reports) are all fighting to be the #3 S. The remaining 2 are just fighting to make the roster. I don’t see us carrying 5 S.

  • Steeler Nation!

    IF Golson resembles the player we saw at Ole Miss, that is. If he does, he can help us. But that foot injury, who knows?
    Allen has something so few corner prospects have-outstanding measurables of size, speed, quickness. He’s just extremely raw. But if you’re a bad team going nowhere, you could pluck him off our PS at mid season and risk nothing.

  • Big White

    Steelers aren’t cutting Moats. That community leadership is worth something. You may see a re-structure, but we haven’t even seen a snap from Keion Adamas yet. This is a reach.

  • dany

    Yet he still was a 5th rounder, and at the very end. Could very well have ended up in the 6th

    I do agree he could be plucked for the PS at midseason though. THAT is a lot more reasonable. Even supposed “tanking” teams like the jets and browns will want to go into the season with players that can help them, not a raw prospect that may or may not be a waste of space on the 53. By October, all bets are off, and by then the steelers will know better whether they will want to protect Allen or let him go

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Moats has played decently when given snaps too IMO. I’d keep him just in case of an injury. He knows where to be and can play at an average level.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Yeah the Feeney deal last year proved that. He was no loss for us, BUT with Allen being a much better long term prospect…

  • Steve Johnson

    I disagree with keeping Sammie Coates over Justin Hunter. Why would you even consider keeping Golson over Brian Allen? Reports out of Pittsburgh this spring was Golson looked slow, didn’t appear to have the quickness he displayed in College. Brian Allen will not clear waivers, somebody will pick him up.

  • Steve Johnson

    Exactly, Size, Speed and Quickness. 6’3/215 LBS and the kid can hit. Now of course, he has to show it iN camp.

  • AndyR34

    We also know that Tomlin favors veterans who have ‘done it’ over guys who have never ‘done it’…but have potential or that elusive thing called ‘upside’ (which to me is only known by the poster).

  • AndyR34

    Right…just like we were going to lose Doran Grant who was drafted in the 4th round…oh wait! Never happened.

  • Jake Marion

    Wr is a wait and see for sure. DHB v. Hunter v. Coates v. Ayers is interesting.

    Somebody call a drug counselling service and get M.B. signed up and reinstated already. Team ought to hire a consultant to take care of that.

    The secondary and LB spots will also be interesting to fill.

  • RickM

    Some risky, but good calls. I hope you’re right on several of them (Adams and Golson). The only one I disagree with is Ayers clearing waivers. I think he’ll get nabbed as when he did play he usually had some results. 3 receptions a game with limited snaps will catch someone’s attention and he can also be a back-up PR. I can see a receiver-needy team claiming him.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Good on you to still keep the light on for Stafford. I think maybe you and his mother are probably the only two people who now feel that it is a reality. I hope I’m wrong about that. But I’m losing faith by the second that he’s not here and we sign people to replace him already. Keeping 5 Safeties MAY be a prudent move. If one of them could be a $Backer type like Daimion.

    I’m starting to think that Hunter may have a real chance to supplant Coates. Maybe it’s Hey-Bey that is the odd man out, but his Special Team value is still there, along with veteran leadership. This added time with Coates and Bryant out, are gonna be huge for Hunter to shine. And I think he can. Will he? We’ll see. But not many people are putting him in over Sammie. And that MAY be a mistake if Coates keeping falling apart like the Scarecrow.

    Moats vs. Adams will be interesting. If the tank is lower for Moats, then I could see this prediction being true. But if he still has some left, I think it makes sense to keep Arthur for one more year.

    Golson over Allen is a tough one. Who knows what in the world we are going to see out of either of them?!

  • Rob

    I agree 100%. I get that Moats isn’t on an upward trajectory, but saying his on -field performance is equivalent to a 7th round rookie who may be able to play special teams is as big a reach I’ve seen by the writers here. And, yes, Moats is super involved off the field for the team as well.

  • Rob

    I’m ok with everything except the Moats < Adams bit. I just don't know what anyone has seen yet to make that kind of projection.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Moats doesn’t look like he can play inside. Dave wrote about this a couple of months ago.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Dave wrote an article a couple of months ago arguing that Moats’ path forward is outside or nothing, and I tend to agree with him. Regarding the safeties, they’ve been keeping five for a while, and all three reserves (assuming Stafford doesn’t retire) are core special teams contributors, or at least potentially core.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s called a prediction. And rookie beat out veterans literally every single year. The bottom line is that Chickillo was already ahead of Moats last year and Watt is already ahead of him this year. There’s a golden opportunity for him to lose his spot. He’s not much of a special teams contributor anymore. The Steelers wouldn’t even have drafted Adams if they didn’t think he could make the roster.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Moats is already behind Chickillo and Watt and doesn’t contribute much on special teams anymore.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Golson had absolutely no reason to push himself during the spring. And who exactly reported that he looked “slow”? Brian Allens clear the waiver wire every single year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s always possible, but until it does I’m not going to predict that it will.

  • Matthew Marczi

    College tape, for starters, and the fact that Moats has no role on the field anymore.

  • Rob

    His college tape shows he’s better than Moats? And the depth rotation left much to be desired unless you can definitively show that Chickillo was any more effective than Moats. Time will tell, but I don’t see Moats being the odd man out here.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Moats was pretty much not playing by the end of the year. He doesn’t fit the mold anymore. He’s becoming less and less athletic by the year. I’m sure the team is concerned about his coverage ability. The fifth outside linebacker spot is probably going to be decided by special teams and Moats only played 70 special teams snaps last year, with a good chunk of that coming in the regular season finale when Chickillo was injured.

  • Big White

    Yeah, i get it Marczi this aint my first rodeo. Trading opinions on a website with a comments sections. Thick skin my good friend.

  • Alan Tman

    Ayers before Coates, and Adams over Moats. But Fort will beat out Johnson or dirty red.

  • Matthew Marczi

    In my opinion, it’s absurd to suggest it’s a reach for the fifth outside linebacker to be bumped for a rookie. How much value can Moats have playing behind Dupree, Harrison, Watt, and Chickillo while not getting a lot of snaps on special teams? If he were to make the roster, he might not even be active on game day.

  • Big White

    Have you ever thought that maybe Chick might be the one out? Take a pill relax, there’s no crying in blogging.

  • Matthew Marczi

    No, I haven’t, because Chickillo is already ahead of him and is a cornerstone of the special teams unit.