Pittsburgh Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction

The Steelers outside linebackers are a group to worry about in the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster prediction
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few weeks until training camp it’s time to our first Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster prediction. We’ll try to have an additional one or two as the summer goes before the final cutdown. Thanks for checking it out and be sure to let us know who you think should make it! With that, let’s get to our Pittsburgh Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction.

Quarterback (3)

  1. Mitchell Trubisky
  2. Kenny Pickett
  3. Chris Oladokun

The top two selections are easy, the question will be who will start Week 1. Selecting the #3 QB was more difficult. I ultimately predict some team will need a backup QB after an injury in camp/preseason and Pittsburgh will be able to move Mason Rudolph for a Day 3 draft pick. Don’t forget, they did just that with Joshua Dobbs in 2019 and got a 5th round selection.

Running Back (3)

  1. Najee Harris
  2. Benny Snell
  3. Mataeo Durant

I have a little more confidence than most that Benny Snell can be a solid backup running back. But his special teams value alone keeps him on the roster. I gave the #3 nod to undrafted rookie free agent (UDFA) to Mataeo Durant. A productive runner at Duke, he also showed special teams value in coverage, as opposed to third-year man Anthony McFarland. McFarland has not been able to see much on field action in his first two years since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 draft.

Full Back (1)

  1. Derek Watt

Full back in name only, Watt is a top special teamer for Pittsburgh who was last year’s captain on the unit and led them in tackles.

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. Diontae Johnson
  2. Chase Claypool
  3. George Pickens
  4. Calvin Austin III
  5. Miles Boykin
  6. Gunner Olszewski

A strong group top to bottom. Figuring out who will be the starting slot receiver from this group will be a fun story to watch. Anthony Miller would be someone hoping to make the roster as the slot receiver, but he only played in one game for the Steelers despite the injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The two rookies will work in as the season goes along, with Boykin potentially starting out the year in heavier rotation. Olszewski has nine career receptions. Pro Football Reference has his return stats above his receiving. He shouldn’t be included in the offensive plans, rather just considered the return specialist.

Tight End (3)

  1. Pat Freiermuth
  2. Zach Gentry
  3. Connor Heyward

Freiermuth and Gentry had a pleasantly surprising year as a combo last year. With Freiermuth being productive early and Gentry becoming a solid blocking tight end you can feel confident in that room. Connor Heyward will join them as a “h-back” type who will get moved all over the offense, but don’t expect to see him lined up as an in-line tight end too often (if ever). He should also be a core special teamer.

Tackle (4)

  1. Dan Moore Jr.
  2. Chukwuma Okorafor
  3. Joe Haeg
  4. John Leglue

Not many changes here from last year. Dan Moore Jr. will look to build off a rookie campaign that for the most part was trending up. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed so pencil him in at right tackle. Joe Haeg showed his value as a versatile player who can play three or even four positions if you need him to. Leglue showed similar versatility, though not at the same level. I have him just beating out Trent Scott, who has had Pittsburgh’s offensive line coach Pat Meyer coach him every season in the NFL.

Guard (3)

  1. Kevin Dotson
  2. James Daniels
  3. Kendrick Green

James Daniels was brought in this offseason and will be looking to raise the ceiling of the offensive line overall. Kevin Dotson has shown flashes in his 13 career starts, but needs to show consistency in terms of play and availability in year three. Kendrick Green is technically competing with Dotson for the left guard spot, but after a disappointing season last year, a versatile swing interior lineman might be the best hope for him.

Center (2)

  1. Mason Cole
  2. J.C. Hassenauer

Mason Cole won’t be the best center in the league. Probably not even top ten. But as a veteran with a lot more experience at center than Green, he can at least be a steadier presence than what Pittsburgh had last year. To avoid potential snaps for Green at center again, I have Hassenauer once again making this roster.

Defensive Line (7)

  1. Cameron Heyward
  2. Chris Wormley
  3. Tyson Alualu
  4. Larry Ogunjobie
  5. Isaiahh Loudermilk
  6. DeMarvin Leal
  7. Montravius Adams

The defensive line is the strongest group on paper for the Steelers right now. Which is good considering Pittsburgh’s run defense was the worst in the league in 2021-22. The team brought in Larry Ogunjobie (free agency) and DeMarvin Leal (draft) this offseason and both should provide value in sub-package as pass rushers. Though Ogunjobie was thought of more as a run stopper coming out, he needs to clean up his tackling to make good on that.

Alualu (injury) and Adams (re-signed) are returning to fill the nose tackle positions. This unit is truly elite when Alualu is healthy, and with a full offseason now with the team Adams will be able to hit the ground running.

We’ll see if all seven players end up making the roster. If I had to bet on someone not making it, my guess would be Loudermilk with hopes he makes it through waivers to the practice squad.

Off-Ball Linebackers (5)

  1. Myles Jack
  2. Devin Bush
  3. Robert Spillane
  4. Marcus Allen
  5. Buddy Johnson

Perhaps the bigger reason for the run defense being so poor last year. Sure, you’d like the defensive line to make the stop at the line of scrimmage (LOS), but the middle linebackers were the ones who let runners into the third level.

Myles Jack should be an improvement over Joe Schobert. Devin Bush should only be better now a year and a half passed the ACL injury. Spillane and Allen make the team for their special teams value but they each bring a unique still to the defense. Spillane as a run defender, and Allen as a dime-backer with his experience as a safety.

The fifth spot is up for grabs between last year’s fourth round pick Buddy Johnson, this year’s seventh round pick Mark Robinson, and 2019’s sixth round pick Ulysees Gilbert. Gilbert had a couple blocks and a TD on special teams last year and led the team in special teams snaps. But I gave Johnson the advantage assuming he can make it on special teams, and because of his higher upside defensively.

Edge Rushers (4)

  1. T.J. Watt
  2. Alex Highsmith
  3. Genard Avery
  4. Tuzar Skipper

The weakest position group in terms of depth for Pittsburgh. Right now there’s not a ton of competition. I gave Tuzar Skipper the edge over Derrek Tuszka for his higher defensive upside. You hope that Skipper will come in ready to compete on special teams after not being able to stick on the roster in the past for that reason. Genard Avery was the only “big” free agent add to the position so he looks to be the front runner for the #3 job. Don’t be surprised if this team adds another name before/during camp.

Cornerbacks (5)

  1. Cameron Sutton
  2. Ahkello Witherspoon
  3. Levi Wallace
  4. Tre Norwood
  5. Justin Layne

Levi Wallace was brought in to take the place of Joe Haden. Ahkello Witherspoon will have high expectations after a good end to the season last year and getting a contract in free agency. I gave Justin Layne the nod over James Pierre because of Layne’s special teams value. While Pierre has the higher defensive upside his inconsistency was present last year and got benched after Week 11.

Tre Norwood is a multi-positional defender that I’m grouping with the corners. Last year he got some work as the slot corner in nickel packages, and I expect that to be his role moving forward.

Safety (4)

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick
  2. Terrell Edmunds
  3. Damontae Kazee
  4. Miles Killebrew

Terrell Edmunds is back on essentially a minimum contract to be this team’s starting strong safety. This is great value to go next to Minkah Fitzpatrick. Miles Killebrew gets spot #4 for his value on special teams. Damontae Kazee is a versatile, playmaking defensive back who led the league in interceptions in 2018.

A name to watch out for is Donovan Stiner. Stiner was a UDFA last year out of Florida who stuck it out on the practice squad last year. A bigger safety with some versatility, he could be a standout in preseason and push for a roster spot.

Specialists (3)

  1. Chris Boswell (K)
  2. Pressley Harvin III (P)
  3. Christian Kuntz (LS)

Chalk here from last season. But if Presley Harvin III struggles early in camp, don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh brings in a veteran punter to compete.

Notables left off: Mason Rudolph, Anthony McFarland, Trent Scott, Ulysses Gilbert III, James Pierre, Donovan Stiner

Thank you for checking out the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction! Be sure to comment below to let us know who you think will be making the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster.

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