Steelers Sign RB Wendell Smallwood; 53-Man Roster Prediction

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael Stiffler, @Stiffeezy_ on Twitter
SteelerNation.com

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster will be quite interesting this off-season. Without preseason games and limited access to practice, some roster moves may come as a surprise. This could be the off-season where unknown players going into camp come out with a roster spot that we did not see coming. 

Here is my 53-man roster prediction for the Steelers. 

 

Quarterback (3)

Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges

 

No surprise here as the three men who started for the Steelers last year earn a roster spot. I don’t believe the Steelers will go into the season with just two quarterbacks like they did a year ago after they traded away Josh Dobbs. It is unknown how Roethlisberger’s elbow will hold up, and with the current situation in the world, you need depth at the most important position in case of COVID-19. 

 

Running Back (4)

James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Derek Watt

 

I think the Steelers follow their previous seasons formula of three running backs and one fullback. Unfortunately, this spells bad news for players like Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Kerrith Whyte, and newly signed free agent Wendell Smallwood. Snell and McFarland get the nod because of youth and each brings a unique skill to the group, while Conner and Watt are both starters in the offense. I am sure Edmunds and Whyte will be near the practice squad in case Conner’s injury history repeats itself, but anymore running backs are a dime a dozen.

 

Wide Receiver (6)

Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Ryan Switzer, Deon Cain

 

This might be the easiest group to predict. Smith-Schuster, Washington, Johnson, and Claypool are all locked in. Switzer can contribute in return duties and has the eye of Roethlisberger, so that bodes well for him. I believe Cain made enough of an impression to end last year to earn a spot going forward, plus he has the Clemson University wide receiver bloodlines. 

 

Tight End (3)

Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Dax Raymond

 

This will be the first camp surprise. Raymond beats out Zach Gentry for the third tight end spot. I think it’s important to note that the Steelers went out and signed Raymond this off-season. Gentry did not stand out last season when given the opportunity, so this will be an interesting spot to watch out for this training camp. 

 

Offensive Lineman (9)

Maurkice Pouncey, J.C. Hassenauer, David DeCastro, Matt Feiler, Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Dotson, Alejandro Villanueva, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner

 

The only real question for this group will be if they decide to keep eight or nine players. I think every position needs to have a true backup if the worst case scenario happens, so that is why I have Hassenauer making the roster. With Feiler having the ability to play both guard and tackle, they have four players that can play tackle and four that can play guard with just seven people, which is great for depth purposes. 

 

Defensive Lineman (6)

Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Dan McCullers, Chris Wromley, Isaiah Buggs

 

A healthy rotation should allow the star-studded duo of Heyward and Tuitt to have fresh bodies heading into the fourth quarter. Each player has the ability to play defensive tackle in sub packages since the 3-4 defense is no longer a staple for this defense, but when the Steelers decide to have a nose tackle on the field, McCullers and Alualu will split those responsibilities. 

 

Inside Linebacker (4)

Vince Williams, Devin Bush, Ulysees Gilbert, Robert Spillane

 

This is a big position of concern when it comes to depth. If Williams or Bush were to go down, would anyone be able to step up? Will the Steelers regret letting Tyler Matakevich go this off-season? This is something to watch for as camp nears. 

 

Outside Linebacker (5)

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Ola Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper

 

I think familiarity plays big for this position group. Having experience in Keith Butler’s defense will help Adeniyi and Skipper cement their place on this roster. Watt and Dupree will each get a majority of the work as they both solidify their resumes for a long-term contract. 

 

Cornerback (6)

Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, Trajan Bandy

 

Just like the wide receiver group having six players, I believe defensive backs should mirror that in today’s NFL. The first five players will be business as usual, but the sixth spot is up for grabs. I think Bandy gets the nod as he has a grit to his playing style that reminds you of Hilton. He isn’t afraid to hit and has shown a good ability to time up blitzes registering three sacks last season for the Miami Hurricanes. 

 

Safety (4)

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr. 

 

I think the toughest choice for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and company will be the idea of keeping a 5th safety or 9th offensive lineman. I think Sutton’s versatility allows the Steelers to keep only four true safeties. Hopefully the Steelers do not have to dive into their reserves this year as safety depth is nearly as thin as the inside linebacker group. 

 

Specialists (3)

Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday

 

Wash, rinse, repeat with this position group. No changes happening this year unless the injury bug strikes. 

 

What do you think of my roster predictions? Do you have any players making it that I don’t? Drop a comment below!

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