I know that a number of these 53-man roster predictions have been posted since the offseason began, but I figured I would join in on the discussion and add my own opinion/prediction on how the final roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers will shape up and look like as they head into their final preseason game against the Panthers and into the regular season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
This is probably the easiest position to predict. With the release of John Parker Wilson, Landry Jones has solidifed a spot on the 53-man roster, although he will probably be a game day inactive.
This position is one of the toughest to predict because of injures and the numbers game. We all know that Bell is a lock, and I feel like Dwyer's performance during the preseason warrants him a spot on the roster. Redman has unfortunately missed most of the preseason due to injuries and has to sit out again for the final preseason game, but the coaches already know what they will get from him. The trade for Felix Jones left many in Steelers nation puzzled. Trades between teams involving players aren't very common, so you know that Jones can't just be a camp body. I believe this could be a sign that LSH's injury is worse than we originally thought. I kept LSH on the roster because, although he and Jones have the same skill set (change-of-pace back who can return kicks), I think Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff liked the way he handled himself during his preseason appearance. I could very well see the Steelers keeping only 4 backs here.
Fullback: Will Johnson
This one is a no-brainer. I believe Johnson can build on a solid 2012 season and play a much bigger role in the passing game this upcoming season.
Another position where the numbers game plays a big factor. We know that the first four names are locks to make the roster, but Derek Moye has really put himself ahead of Justin Brown (who I originally thought would make the final roster) and the rest of the receivers with his play during the preseason. He's a tall target for Ben if he can see the field at all.
This is a little tricky. I can actually see the Steelers only keeping three tight ends on the roster if Heath can make it back by week one of the regular season. Apparently, he is progressing very nicely so far, so we can only hope that he comes back fully healthy and ready to go. Spaeth is hurt so we won't be seeing him play anytime soon. Although Paulson isn't the best inline blocker, he has soft hands and can be a reliable threat in the red zone. DJ's spot may rely both on Miller's health and also his performance against the Panthers now that he is healthy again. The fact that Kelvin Beachum has played some TE during practice and the preseason allows us to be a little bit more flexible when selecting who we keep on the final roster.
I am still struggling to figure out how many offensive linemen the Steelers will decide to keep this year. The first six names are locks and I feel like Malecki's position flexibility is definitely attractive especially to our coaching staff who love players who can play multiple positions. I believe the Steelers will either carry 8 or 9 linemen. For this prediction, I'm only keeping 8, but I feel like it's a tossup between Joe Long and Chris Hubbard only because I do not want to see Whimper in a Steelers uniform ever again. Do not count out the possibility of the Steelers picking up someone off the street because the 8th lineman will most likely be a game day inactive.
All four of these names are locks for the final roster. Love the fact that Woods can slide in to nose tackle in a pinch. I know we all hope to see Ziggy really turn the proverbial corner and have a great year. Brett is relying on a solid year to maybe sign a one-year contract during the next offseason. Cameron Heyward: See Ziggy Hood's explanation.
Steve will be the starter. Only question is who will be his backup. Ta'amu will get a lot of snaps during this final preseason, but I think he'll be worth keeping on the final roster.
First three names are locks. I hope they give Jarvis some special pass rushing packages on third and longs. Or I just hope that he overtakes the starting outside linebacker spot opposite of Woodley. I chose Baxter over Carter not only because of his great play during the preseason, but also Carter's uninspired play. I believe that the 5th rounder has finally seen his last days in Pittsburgh.
First two are locks. I believe that McFadden is a lock as well with his solid special teams play and the ability to call the defensive plays. Love this kid and I hope he has a great career in the black and gold once he replaces Foote. The last roster spots will be decided by Danny Smith, our Special Teams Coach. The Steelers have vocally praised Wilson for his special teams play. I picked the 6th round rookie over the veteran Brian Rolle.
I put Terry ahead of Josh Victorian because one of the main traits of a Steelers cornerback is that they MUST be able to tackle. Victorian whiffed on the long kickoff return for a touchdown during the Chiefs game. He's still practice squad eligible.
It is obvious who the Steelers will keep as far as the safety position goes. Both Golden and Thomas have seen looks at the nickel slot position, so keeping 5 CB's seems reasonable to me.
Kicker: Shaun Suisham
Suishy has been consistent.
Punter: Drew Butler
I feel like Moorman has not shown enough during the preseason to unseat Drew.
Long Snapper: Greg Warren
This roster spot was solidified when the Steelers cut Luke Ingram.
Thank you for checking out my prediction of the final 53-man roster. Please leave your thoughts and criticisms at the bottom. I would love to hear 'em.