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Steelers 53-man Roster Predictions 1.0

By Aadi
SteelerNation.com

 

QB (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs

This one’s easy. Mason Rudolph may jump Joshua Dobbs on the depth chart, and that battle for No. 2 could be intriguing, but other than that, nothing new at the QB position.

 

RB (3): James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr.

Also pretty easy. Benny Snell Jr. will definitely make the roster as a 4th round pick, but the real question is how much playing time will he get. Mike Tomlin usually asks his running backs to cut weight before they see significant playing time, so we should probably expect more out of him in his second year.

 

FB (1): Roosevelt Nix

Really wish he got more playing time.

 

(Outside) WR (3): James Washington, Donte Moncrief, Diontae Johnson *JuJu Smith-Schuster

I’m actually pretty confident in James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Washington has shown tremendous potential and is especially good with jump-balls. He could develop into an outstanding deep threat and maybe even a redzone specialist, though his lack of height there is concerning. Johnson, despite his size, is an outside receiver for the Steelers. His release is outstanding and cornerbacks in college could rarely get his hands on him in press coverage. Moncrief is really only a depth piece, but could start for the first couple weeks. JuJu gets a star* as a primarily slot receiver who can rotate outside.

 

(Slot) WR (3): JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer

This is JuJu’s primary role, but with a lack of experience outside and solid depth at this position, we might see more of Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers. Both are smaller, quicker receivers who have potential that has not been tapped into yet. Rogers is a savvy route runner who Ben Roethlisberger really seems to like to target when he is on the field. Switzer has sure hands and was a first down machine despite limited playing time.

 

TE (3): Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry

Vance McDonald is criminally underrated and easily secures the No. 1 spot. Despite many believing TE is a major need, Vance is one of the top overall tight ends in the league. He is a tremendous blocker who makes some difficult catches and offers RAC (run after catch) ability. Xavier Grimble is questionable, though he has developed as a blocker and has better hands that you might expect. He’s a lot better than most casual fans think, if he’s limited to the No. 2 spot. Gentry, though an absolute project, does remind of Jesse James coming out. Christian Scotland-Williamson‘s development should be interesting, and it would fun, if unlikely, to see him make the final 53.

 

OT (4): Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwumu Okarafor, Jerald Hawkins

Alejandro Villanueva has been an excellent LT, but the RT position is up for grabs. Matt Feiler is versatile and powerful in the run game, but Chukwumu Okarafor offers more overall upside. It should be an interesting camp battle. Jerald Hawkins hasn’t been great, but there were reports of him coming along nicely before his injury last season. Definitely a better option than Zach Banner.

 

OG (3): David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Fred Johnson * Matt Feiler, *B.J. Finney

David DeCastro and Ramon Foster have locked their starting positions, but what is interesting about this offensive line is the amount of versatility they have. UDFA Fred Johnson is a high upside player, who could benefit from some coaching up from Shaun Sharrett. He’s huge, can move pretty well , and has a nasty streak in the run game, though he has some mental and technical issues to sort out. Feiler can play all along the line, and B.J. Finney does a nice job on the interior.

 

C (2): Maurkice Pounce, B.J. Finney

Maurkice Pouncey has been playing at a high level for what seems like forever, so no question here. Finney is outstanding depth.

 

DE(4): Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Isiah Buggs

Same thing here, except Isiah Buggs replaces L.T. Walton. Not really sure where to put him, but it is likely Buggs plays a little bit of DE and NT for the Steelers.

 

NT (2): Javon Hargrave

Javon Hargrave has been underused and underrated throughout his time with the Steelers, but I really think he is special.

 

OLB (5): T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adeniyi, Sutton Smith

The top three are pretty set, especially with Bud Dupree being made over 9 million dollars and Anthony Chickillo receiving a contract extension. Ola Adeniyi is very, very intriguing as a pass rusher, especially after his outstanding preseason last year. Sutton Smith, though small, still offers upside as an EDGE rusher who can drop back into coverage and be a situational pass rusher himself.

 

ILB (5): Vince Williams, Devin Bush, Mark Barron, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert III, *Sutton Smith

Steelers have almost completely re-made this position. Williams is still the leader of the defense, though he could face some competition from Mark Barron on passing downs as he continues to learn the system. Bush slides in to Ryan Shazier‘s old role as a primarily coverage, off-ball kind of linebacker. I like Tyler Matakevich more than most, as he is an outstanding special-teamer and a tackling machine on defense. Ulysees Gilbert III is really solid depth with a ton of upside for a 6th round pick. He can cover well and, considering he’s never missed a game in his college career, he’s great depth. Smith’s fluid lateral movement ability hints at some ability in zone coverage, and that, in addition to his smaller frame, could mean more playing time inside rather than outside.

 

(Outside) CB (5): Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Justin Layne, Artie Burns, Brian Allen

Joe Haden and Steven Nelson secure the two starting outside spots, with Justin Layne taking the time to develop and Artie Burns being nothing more than a depth piece at this point. Brian Allen makes the roster a solid special-teamer, who can hopefully take that next step at CB.

 

(Slot) CB (1): Mike Hilton,*Cameron Sutton

Mike Hilton is a much better slot corner than the Steelers give him credit for. He’s not outstanding in coverage (he’s still solid), but he’s outstanding in run support, has done well as a blitzer, and actually played Rob Gronkowski really well when he was assigned to cover him. But these attributes make him more of a safety than a corner. We’ll see what they do, but if the Steelers make Hilton convert to safety, the slot cornerback position becomes a major unknown, with Cameron Sutton having a long way to go, and Nelson’s terrible tape when paying inside.

 

FS (2): Sean Davis, Cameron Sutton

Sean Davis was solid but unspectacular last year, and Jordan Dangerfield has almost no upside. Sutton makes the move to safety, as Mike Tomlin has been hinting, but also sees some time as a slot corner. Would love to see the Steelers bring in Tre Boston or even Eric Berry (more of a SS) instead, but that’s unlikely. UDFA P.J. Locke III is interesting but misses a ton of tackles, and is more likely to play SS than FS.

 

SS (2): Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen

This position really needs to make a big step up in 2019. Terrell Edmunds needs to be more consistent and Marcus Allen needs to prove that he is capable of handling some playing time every once-in-a-while, especially because he may be our primary dime-backer.

 

K (1): Chris Boswell

I’m praying for the old Chris Boswell, but it may be too late for that. Let’s just hope for the best.

 

P (1): Ian Berryman

I just want to see Jordan Berry go. He’s semi-decent at pinning opponents, but he has very little range and he is inconsistent. There is no point in keeping an inconsistent punter. Time to try something new.

 

LS (1): Kameron Canaday

 

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