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Pittsburgh Steelers Projected 53-Man Roster #1 - 4/30/09

I'm buried in book work so I am pleased to see the activity kept up at a fast and furious clip by y'all. Many thanks to syrsteelerfan for this entry, a first crack at predicting the Steelers 53-man roster when the '09 season commences in early September. - Blitz-

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Here is my first projected 53 man roster based on recent signings, upcoming cuts, the draft, and my own opinions.

I'll update this after mini-camps, OTA's, and training camp as we learn more about these players. For now, I've tried to restrain myself from assuming too much about our rookies, they'll have to prove it at camp. I've included all of our round 1-5 picks in the roster, and while i love this draft that may not happen. The safest bets are high picks, guys at thin positions, and those who can play special teams.

Throughout the spring and summer we'll learn which of these guys are players, which are competing to start and which to make the team, what free agents are better than the players we drafted or have on the roster, etc. So this is just the first draft, and we'll learn more when they hit the field.

**UPDATE** Well, looks like I should have waited until tomorrow to put this together, as the Steelers today announced the signings of 4 veterans including WR Shaun McDonald, and the release of LS Jared Retkofsky.

I've edited the below to reflect that.

(I) = inactive on game days

QB (3)
    Big Ben
    Charlie Batch
    Denis Dixon (I)

RB (5)
    Willie Parker - His performance this year could determine whether the Steelers try to keep him in the offseason
    Rashard Mendenhall - expecting big things from Delicious this year...
    Mewelde Moore - great contributor. 3rd down back with great hands and good at blitz pickup
    Frank Summers - will take Gary Russell's spot as short yardage back, and a core special teamer. Not yet a fullback.
    Carey Davis - Will share time with McHugh at fullback

WR (5)
    Hines Ward - a living legend
    Santonio Holmes - needs to continue his strong play from the end of last year
    Limas Sweed - Coaches and commentators are still high on Limas... but he'll need to prove it on the field. Will fight with Wallace  - or a vet WR - for Nate's position (which is more than just a #3, but a deep burner who takes the top off the D)
    Mike Wallace - if he shows he can return kicks in the NFL, he'll make the roster and play on Sundays even if he's not a polished WR yet
    Dallas Baker (I) - Doesn't have the speed for Nate's flanker position. Could be active as the #4 WR.
   Shaun McDonald - "Poor man's Wes Welker" will be backup slot receiver and 3rd or 4th receiver

TE (3)
    Heath Miller - a complete football player
    Matt Spaeth - needs to improve his leverage and blocking. Get low, big man!
    Sean McHugh - adds great versatility as an H-back

OL (8)
    Max Starks - Your starting LT
    Chris K - Hopefully grows more consistent in his 2nd year starting
    Justin Hartwig - Inaccurate sack statistics be damned, the line's best player last year
    Kraig Urbik - Beats out Stapleton for the RG position. Willie Colon will never play G.
    Willie Colon - Right tackle unless Hills takes it away.
    Trai Essex - Swing tackle, backup at LT and RT spots. Can play 5 positions.
    Darnell Stapleton - Backup for all 3 interior o-line positions

    Tony Hills (I) - Won't start unless he beats out Colon at RT. Could be your 2010 LT.

DL (7)
    Aaron Smith - The anchor of our line.
    Brett Keisel - A solid starter and high-character guy.
    Casey Hampton - Plays only half the snaps, but when he's in no one can run on us
    Chris Hoke - Not the two-gapper Hampton is, but we switch up our plays when he's in. A high-motor guy.
    Nick Eason - Mitchell can work wonders with castaways just as well as late-round picks. Had a great season last year.
    Travis Kirshke - Old, and could be cut. But he's a solid contributor who knows the scheme and doesn't make mistakes. Will depend on Hood's progress
    Ziggy Hood (I) - Could get after the passer on 3rd downs. But don't be surprised to see him inactive on game days since he won't be ready to play in the base defense until mid-season at best, which makes him a wasted game-day spot. - UPDATE: now listing him as inactive due to McDonald signing and this interview with John Mitchell (Scout.com, $$), where it's emphasized that D-linemen sit for awhile on this team, 1st pick or no
   
LB (8)
    James Harrison - Can he improve on 08?
    Lawrence Timmons - Will this be his breakout season?
    James Farrior - Still a top coverage linebacker, leader on the field
    Lamarr Woodley - Will only improve
    Keyaron Fox - Underrated contributor, will improve with more time in our system
    Patrick Bailey - The Steelers 08 rookie of the year is a ST ace
    Arnold Harrison - Great special teams player
    Bruce Davis (I) - Needs to step up in his 2nd year, but won't be active if he can't play special teams. If OLB goes down, Timmons can slide over and Fox can step in at MLB.
   
CB (7)
    Ike Taylor - If you put crazy glue on his hands he'd be top 5 CB in the league
    William Gay - A younger, faster, just as smart Deshea Townshend.
    Deshea Townshend - Slowing down, but still a savvy nickel corner
    Keiwan Ratcliffe - Veteran CB beats out the rookies based on NFL experience. Dime corner.
    Joe Burnett - Makes the game-day roster because he can return punts and play on the coverage units
    Keenan Lewis (I) - Has too much athleticism to make it through waivers to the practice squad, but too raw and not physical enough to play immediately
    Anthony Madison - Led the Steelers in ST tackles last year

S (4)
    Troy Polamalu - The one, the only
    Ryan Clark - Performance of Mundy and Lewis in camp will determine whether we re-sign him
    Tyrone Carter - This staff loves vets. I could definitely see Mundy taking his spot, but Ryan hasn't proven a thing yet. Let's see after minicamps.
     Ryan Mundy (I) - Makes the roster but inactive on game days. Smart, disciplined, heady, hard-hitter.

ST (3)
    Jeff Reed - He'll re-sign if we throw in unlimited Sheetz to destroy
    Daniel Sepulveda - Back from injury - will he improve on 07, or regress?
    Paul Estermeyer - A "student of long-snapping" beats out older and injured Greg Warren and JAG Jared Retkofsky

Practice Squad (8)
    C AQ Shipley - not ready to start
    TE DJ Johnson - We usually keep a TE on the PS
    OT Jason Capizzi - A big man we're always rooting for. Hasn't been good enough to make the roster but too good for the PS. Hopefully this is his year.
    LB Donovan Woods - actually made 53 man roster last year before being hurt
    CB Roy Lewis - CB / S hybrid could make the team, but if they keep 4 safeties don't be suprised if this spot goes to a RB.
    DE Ra'Shon Harris - will sit here for a year or two while developing
    DT Scott Paxson - insurance in case a NT goes down
    WR Martin Nance - can play all 3 positions, but how well? Baker is more polished.
asd

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