First the cuts.
Tony Hills: He had his chance, and while he nearly won the RG spot, he showed he wasn't going to be a good tackle, and when Legursky beat him for the RG job he no longer held value. He's a fourth year player and he's at best a sub-par RG. I always held out he would turn his athleticism and strength into being a solid starter, but it wasn't to be.
Crezdon Butler: The surprise cut. Apparently both rookies have shown enough to be kept, and Lewis has settled down and is ready to contribute, William Gay continues to retain a spot, and if Dick LeBeau feels he deserves it, then I'll take his decision over mine. I may think I know how his defense works, but he invented it, if he wants William Gay, he gets him.
Gilmore: They kept Battle, and Saunders was going to make it, I guess they will work around his blocking.
Crittendon and Kapinos are no surprise, I had Kapinos beating out Sepulveda as a surprise choice, but Robo Punter returns, let's hope he stays healthy.
While looking at the roster I always run through how many are needed at each position, and then look to see why they choose to use the leftover spots. For example, you could run three RBs or five WR's, but it is more common to keep 4 and 6. This years most interesting selection was keeping Steve McClendon. While McClendon played well and was pushing Hoke for his spot on the line, most assumed the vet would keep his spot and the Steelers would only keep six on the D-line. The selection of McClendon to me speaks equally of McClendon's improvement and the unique situation of our NT position.
McClendon made the roster at the cost of Crezdon Butler, a seventh DL or CB is an extra spot, you don't really need either. Butler plays in a logjam of younger developing players, C. Allen and Brown have higher potential than Butler showed this year, and Lewis is a similar athlete that has developed further at the position. With the loss of OTA's and a short camp, Butler lost a lot of the normal second year development. Lewis knows the defense and had the ability, he needed to settle down and not hurt the team with boneheaded mistakes and stupid penalties, he fixed that without OTA's. With Lewsi one year older than Butler and younger players with higher upside, Butler is a good young corner who we could afford to cut, even if we kept an extra CB this year, what is the value next year of that player? We have three young corners right now after cutting Warren and Butler.
McClendon is a younger, less trustworthy Hoke right now. If you are looking past this season, McClendon is the right choice, but if you are hoping for a SB win this year, Hoke is the better option. Keeping both provides you with a big dose of insurance against next year. Hoke and Hampton are probably in their final season, if we don't keep McClendon he probably gets picked up by another 3-4 defense that isn't as deep as ours, he's a good enough NT to be a back up on most of the newer 3-4 teams, which would leave us with nobody for next year. A good choice for now and the future. Even if the Steelers don't think he's our NT of the future he's at least a very good back-up of the future, and that has good value too.