An early look at the roster as currently reported on Steelers.com, trying to make a basic guide to how many spots are up for contention and who the competitors are.
As usual I will assume the following: The team will take 24 defensive players, 24 offensive players, and 3 specialists. Then add in 2 wild cards depending on ST coverage, and who they need to hide on the roster. I'm going to give a short summary afterwards, but the locks I'll put their likely role next to them. and the rest their chief advantage to winning a roster spot.
It's an overview, and I'm not getting into situational packages or the practice squad and such.
Defensive Line: 2013 6 spots.
Locks: 4 spots
Cameron Heyward: Starting DE
Steve McClendon: Starting NT
Stephon Tuitt: Starting DE/Top Backup
Cam Thomas: Top Backup/Starting DE
Best shots for the last 2 spots:
Hebron Fangupo: Has actually played multiple games.
Brian Arnfelt: Has a few snaps for the Steelers
Daniel McCullers: 6th round draft pick.
Long Shots for the 53:
Al Lapuaho: He tackled someone that one time!
Josh Muaro: Highly rated UDFA
Nick Williams: Likely to be PUP player, unless he rehabs his way out of it.
Ethan Hemer: He's in the NFL!
Roy Philon: Hold on to your dreams!
The real fights on the D-Line is Tuitt vs himself to be ready to start, then 3 dogs for 2 bones with Fangupo trying to put the 6th round pick on the PS and Arnfelt looking to hold off the nobodies behind him that would love to take his spot.
Line Backers: 2013 8 spots
Locks: 6 spots
Lawrence Timmons: Starting ILB
Jason Worilds: Starting OLB
Jarvis Jones: Starting OLB
Ryan Shazier: Starting ILB/Top Backup
Vince Williams: Top Backup/Starting ILB
Arthur Moats: Top Backup/push starters anywhere
Top 3 dogs for 2 bones:
Sean Spence: Could push for play time if he's ready to go, but it's still a long road.
Chris Carter: Has experience, time to show up.
Terence Garvin: Shazier might ruin his chances, but he played a good bit in the nickel, could see early action if Shazier struggles.
Need to make a lot of noise:
Kion Wilson: played 11 games last season, Steelers were 3-8 in those games. He's not the guy we want playing.
Vic So'oto: an Athlete, ST guy that could steal a spot if he really makes his presence felt.
Howard Jones: Highly rated UDFA.
Jordan Zumwalt: A lot of ILB's to fight through, needs to star on ST and play well Outside to make it.
Dan Molls: Keeping the dream alive! too small, too slow, good college tackler.
Corner Backs: 2013 6 spots
Locks: 3 spots
Ike Taylor: Starting CB (ten year starter on a top defense, still underrated career.)
Cortez Allen: Starting CB
William Gay: 3rd Corner, plays anywhere.
Do we want any of these guys for the other 3?:
Antwon Blake: Lake likes him.
Brice McCain: Veteran slot corner and ST guy, veteran safety net.
Isaiah Green: He has been here, and there are worse options.
Shaquille Richardson: Rookie 5th rounder, he's not short like the 3 above him.
It's a long, long road.
Deion Belue: Has a lot of growth to be an NFL corner. Could earn project status with good work.
Devin Smith: Was on our PS for a bit last season, needs to make a lot of noise.
The real battle here is Shaquille trying to make the 53. Otherwise the depth at corner isn't the most promising, and is short.
Safety: 2013 4 spots.
Troy Polamalu: Starting SS
Mike Mitchell: Starting FS
Shamarko Thomas: Reserve SS
Robert Golden: Reserve/ST ace.
Could be a 5 safety year:
Will Allen: Veteran that Tomlin likes, could steal a Wild Card spot depending on how others perform.
Trying to find a spot where there isn't one:
Ross Ventrone: NE signed, promoted or released this guy 50 times in the last 2 seasons. Seriously.
Jordan Dangerfield: Could be a really good player, but he can't get no respect.
Will Allen is the question mark here, will Tomlin keep 5 safeties? We could see 5 and 5 dropping a normal corner spot for Golden/Shamarko and their ability in pass packages. We'll see.
Overall barring injury the roster is pretty well shaped, there's a lot to like at LB that we'll have to let go, and a lot to want at CB that we might not have. Hope this helps people size up camp battles.