For those of you who read the headline to this article and rolled your eyes thinking “Here we go again with another 53-man roster prediction article” — think again.
Every outlet around the country is doing their own version of predicting who will, and won’t, make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final roster after training camp. The preseason has officially ended, but I decided to go a bit more in-depth on the prediction side of things. Therefore, I decided to lead up to my first complete 53-man roster prediction by going position-by-position and deciding who makes the team and who doesn’t.
Today’s position: Outside Linebackers
Unlike the other positions I’ve covered in this series, while the majority of the depth chart is set in stone, the outside linebacker position might be the position which lacks the most depth on the entire team. After the top 3-4 players, there is plenty to debate. The top-3 players on the depth chart seemed to be solidified, but how many OLBs the team keeps, and who fills those spots is anyone’s guess.
This will certainly be something not decided until training camp/the preseason rolls around, but I have a feeling I know what the depth chart will look like, and how each player will fit into the team’s scheme when all is said and done, barring injury.
Bud Dupree — Much to fans’ chagrin, the Steelers picking up Dupree’s 5th year option means they will lean heavily on Dupree in hopes he finally turns the corner. With the team not drafting, or picking up an OLB in Free Agency, Dupree’s spot is safe.
T.J. Watt — Watt’s rookie season was special for a lot of reasons, and for me it was special due to the potential he possesses in his sophomore season. Whether rushing from the left or right side, Watt is the example of what the Steelers want in their OLBs under Keith Butler.
Anthony Chickillo — Chickillo will be facing free agency after this season, and he is now the main depth piece on the roster. With Arthur Moats gone, it will be Chickillo’s job to be the top backup at both positions.
Depth Player(s)/Special Teamers:
Keion Adams — Call me crazy, but the Steelers have to like Adams a lot considering he was kept around after going on Injured Reserve last year during training camp. There is no guarantee a 7th round pick does that as a rookie, but Adams is getting a golden opportunity to make an impact as a depth player this year — and I think he makes the best of it.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi — I feel if Adeniyi can prove himself on special teams, he has a spot on this roster. The Steelers will need the depth, and although he wouldn’t be called upon frequently, he could make the best of a year of experience under his belt learning the system, and nuances, of NFL life.
Players to be Cut:
Roster Spots taken: 29/53
Next position: Offensive Line
Predicting the Starting Safeties
Predicting the Starting Inside Linebackers
Predicting the Starting Wide Receivers
Predicting the Starting Running Backs
Predicting the Starting Cornerbacks