So we've got 9 new Steelers and a bunch of undrafted hopefuls to join them. Where does that leave the roster for the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers
QB (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch/Troy Smith/Alex Tanney
I wouldn't mind betting it ends up being same again at QB for us, but Troy Smith has a chance to grab the #3 slot. Alex Tanney is merely a mini camp invite right now but may have a shot at the Practice Squad, though I must confess, I can't remember the last time we had a PS QB and we carried 3 on the 53 man roster
RB (5): Isaac Redman, Jon Dwyer, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, Rashard Mendenhall, John Clay, Will Johnson, Chad Spann
I've listed Mendenhall in italics because I expect him to be on the PUP list and probably will miss the first half of the season. The Steelers list Rainey as a RB, but I think as a rookie he may be more of that specialist returner guy who we work onto the field in a few offensive plays as well. I don't expect him to be lined up in the backfield much unless he proves he can pick up the blitz, in which case Baron Batch's slot may be in danger but I really see him as a big tiem front runner for the 3rd down role. So in reality this is 4 RBs and a KR/PR. Dwyer is training with Ike and co so I expect him to come in and hit the ground with his wheels running and win a spot, the last spot is a wildcard. Does Haley want a true FB? If so Will Johnson has an inside line to it. But John Clay has good great size for it, at least as a blocker. Chad Spann looks like a camp body but we've been surprised by those guys before.
WR (5): Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Tony Clemons, Jimmy Young, Marquise Maze, Connor Dixon, David Gilreath, Juamorris Stewart, Derrick Williams
I'm gunning for only 5 WRs on the roster this year though we have carried 6 in the past. I think they have 4 very good to great guys with no real question marks about them, or their role for 2012. We could still carry 6 if there's a guy we just don't want to expose to waivers but usually we carry 6 when one of them is a special teams ace or return specialist. For me this year that role goes to Chris Rainey. Who I would also expect to see utilised in the multi WR sets anyway. Who gets the 5th spot? Pick your own name, I have no idea.
TE (3): Heath Miller, Leonard Pope, David Johnson, David Paulson, Weslye Saunders, Jamie McCoy, Wes Lyons
This is a really tough one to call. Given his college indiscretions I'm surprised Wes Saunders is even still on the roster after his suspension. But he is, so he must still be in their plans. Miller is a lock and Pope, coming from Haley's system MUST have an inside track. It also helps that he's a pretty solid pro TE anyway. David Johnson could be on the bubble if Paulson plays well. Not sure what happens with Saunders when he becomes available. Johnson, and presumably Paulson (who seems similar) do different things to Saunders who you would figure to be more after Leonard Pope's role when he returns. Week 5 could be interesting.
OL (9): Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Adams, Willie Colon, Trai Essex, Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster, Chris Scott, Jonathan Scott, Kelvin Beachum, Trevis Turner, Desmond Stapleton, Alfred McCullough, Ryan Lee
I might be off the mark with expecting Trai Essex to make the roster but I think he's a decent backup and he has major position versatility. Add those together I think he's something of a shoe in. Which leaves me with only 1 open OL slot and a bunch of guys competing for it. I expect it'll be one of the Scott's. Beachum I've read, is a long snapper as well. If he can win that job the coaches will be ecstatic about having a guy who can be on their active roster and also give them an emergency Guard too. If he can beat out Greg Warren that is. Practice Squad is the best most of the younger guys not in bold have to hope for.
DL (6): Cameron Heyward, Brett Kiesel, Ziggy Hood, Casey Hampton, Scott McClendon, Alameda Ta'amu, Corbin Bryant, Al Woods, Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, Jake Stoller, Kade Weston, Mike Blanc
I think they carry 6 to start the season but it may go up to 7 when Casey is healthy. I'm expecting like Redman for Hampton to be PUPped and probably miss the first part of the season. That gives us 2 NTs and 3DEs. We'll keep another DE I think, who it may be is a lottery but I'd say right now Corbin Bryant is the favourite. He got some playing time last year and impressed in camp. But there's a couple of practice squad gems here I think as well.
LB (9): James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Stevenson Sylvester, Larry Foote, Sean Spence, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Brandon Lindsey, Morrty Ivy, Adrian Robinson, Brandon Hicks, Marshall McFadden
Could be 8 or 9 kept here, probably depends largely on if one of these guys steps up as a special teamer. Worilds I think will make, I liked the way he came on late in the year for us. Still has a lot of work to do to prove he can be a starter but there were promising signs. Carter will probably make it but he may see a challenge to his spot as a backup OLB. I'm high on Adrian Robinson as a dark horse for a roster spot. I think Morrty Ivy is making the roster, at least until injuries start to hit us.
DB (10): Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy, Damon Cromartie-Smith, Walter McFadden, Myron Rolle, Antonio Smith, Robert Golden, Terry Carter, Terrence Frederick
After the debacle against Denver I'm not prepared to ink in anyone of our backup safeties. We may not keep 10, I'll be honest after totting up all the other positions I got left with 10 here, but given the question marks about our depth here, it may suit us to keep extra guys here rather than that extra RB or WR or a 10th OL guy of a 7th DL. A lot will ultimately depend on who is the guy the coaches feel they don't want to risk exposing to waivers. But given some of the safety play below Troy and Clark this year you;d have to think that Rolle, Golden or others have a legit shot at making the final 53. In reality I expect Will Allen and Ryan Mundy will be back but that still leaves a possible CB slot and maybe another Safety slot. We could even look to add a veteran in free agency here yet.
K (1): Shaun Suisham, Grant Ressel
P (1): Jeremy Kapinos, Drew Butler
LS (1): Greg Warren, Kelvin Beachum
Think there could be genuine competition for all 3 specialist positions, if it's true about Beachum being a possible long snapper. But the veterans should win out.