FanPost

Roster Watch, evolving battles as OTA's get rolling.  Offense

I'm not an expert prognosticator, I prefer to look at the roster as it evolves and this post is going to try to point out which battles are key to the shaping of this offensive roster.

QB: Ben is the starter, Bruce is the plucky veteran backup. Behind them is fourth rounder Landry Jones and camp body John Parker Wilson. Should not be a single battle here, Landry Jones doesn't look good enough to really challenge Bruce for the #2, and Wilson shouldn't have much chance to beat out Jones.

Position outlook: 3 QB Ben R. Bruce G. Landry J.

FB: Will Johnson is the FB, David Johnson is the only other player with real experience at the position, which may help him make the team at TE, but not much.

Position outlook: 1 FB (4) Will Johnson

TE: Only real question here seems to be Heath Miller's health. Spaeth and Paulson should be #2 and 3. McCoy and D. Johnson are at the bottom looking up, they will need injury or a great offseason to make the roster.

Position outlook: 3 TE (7) Heath, Paulson, Spaeth (keep Johnson if Heath isn't healthy)

OL: Six positions are pretty well set, Pouncey, Decastro, Adams, Gilbert, Foster and Beachum. the only questions among these six is which tackle is left or right, and whether Beachum or Foster starts. After that there are two spots left. Maleki and Whimper would seem to be the favorites for those spots, with UDFA Golic probably having the best chance to overtake one of them. If Beachum wins the starting guard spot, backup tackles will be more important as well as having a backup Center. Watching if Foster gets work at tackle (signs he's not going to start) and Golic at Center will tell a lot about how this OL is shaping up.

Position Outlook: 8 OL (15)

RB: Could be a real strength this year. Redman and Dwyer have both had success as #2 backs, and struggles as #1. Bell is a lock to make the roster, and hopefully take over as the #1 back. All three have well-rounded skill sets and can block and catch. Haley has much more record of multiple ball carriers than a single main back. I would not be surprised if Dwyer and Redman are kept on the roster.

Returners: RB's and WR's have recorded all of our punt and kickoff returns (minus botched plays and squib kicks) since 2008, so I'm including this discussion here. Among the new additions to the roster LaRod S-H, Curtis McNeil and Reggie Dunn have kickoff return experience, Justin Brown returned punts in college. As for returning players only Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have much experience, but both have returned kicks and punts.

Brown wasn't as good last year as he was in 2011, when he was slightly above league average at punt returns. Sanders has a few good returns, but nothing special. Using A. Brown on returns is in no way ideal, and Sanders should be a starter now, his marginal return abilities shouldn't warrant the risk. I am hopeful that a new face can take punt returns, but if no one emerges, I would bet on Sanders. As for Kick returns, I'd give LaRod S-H the advantage, but who wouldn't love to see R. Dunn light up the scoreboard?

WR: A. Brown is our #1, Sanders and Cotchery #2 and 3, Behind them we have Wheaton and Burress leading the fight, with J. Brown, D. Moye, D. Gilreath, and others trying to steal a spot. The bottom feeders best chance to make the team will likely be by showing ability returning punts and on coverage teams. As for actual receiving ability I'd love to see Moye or J. Brown show that they can be NFL receivers with their size. The fight for the bottom of the depth chart at WR will be fun to watch, and kick/punt returns should be a big deal in training camp.

Position Outlook RB: 4 RB (19) Bell, Redman, Dwyer, and a returner.

Position Outlook WR: 6 WR (25) A. Brown, E. Sanders, J. Cotchery, M. Wheaton should be locks, after that return duties and ST play come into the discussion. Burress has a good shot with size and exp, but J. Brown could shake things up if he returns well and shows talent at receiver. The last spot should be a punt returner, or if others have filled that role a surprise like Moyeor one of the rookies could make it.

Basically you need 3 runners, 5 receivers, a punt and a kick returner to make up the last ten spots.

What to watch:

1. Foster vs. Beachum and where the backups play. Position flexibility is key for backups, and you need guys who can play Tackle and Center.

2. Punt returns: Won't be as exciting as Kickoff returns, but will be a bigger deal in forming this roster.

3. WR depth: Lots of bodies, little proven in depth fights, several spots are available for a bunch of young guys looking to take the next step.

The defensive side will come out soon. Hopefully.

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