Steelers Nation scanned the internet all day on Saturday waiting to hear which players made the team’s 53-man roster and which did not. Most of the players kept weren’t surprises, but there were some.
Veteran quarterback, Landry Jones losing his backup quarterback duties and his roster spot was the biggest shocker of the day. Fan favorite, Ola Adeniyi, also made the 53-man roster, only to be placed on injured reserve two days later. Nat Berhe, after being cut on Saturday, was rumored to be a player the Steelers wanted to bring back — and indeed he was re-signed to the roster.
Let’s take a look at the offensive players who have made the Steelers’ roster, while a follow-up article will focus on defense and special teams.
The positions and the players below are taken from Steelers.com but I added a couple that I thought were important and needed clarifying.
I have 54 players listed here as Le’Veon Bell hasn’t reported yet, but I fully expect him to.
Ben Roethlisberger: Coming off of four straight Pro Bowl appearances, Big Ben looks to move up the NFL record books during his 15th season. Does he miss any games or struggle on the road?
Joshua Dobbs: Solid numbers against Carolina Panthers defenders who are now on the street looking for new careers. Landry Jones detractors got what they wanted — but will they still be happy if Dobbs is forced into game action?
Mason Rudolph: A terrible preseason with a 54.5 completion percentage. Those numbers are weighted down by playing against Green Bay Packers players who made the 53-man roster.
Le’Veon Bell: (At the time of writing the article, he doesn’t count against the roster as he hasn’t signed his franchise tag.) Will fans bash Bell if he struggles against a top-10 run defense in Week 1, or will he come out of the gate charging and fans will just say, “Well, after all, it was against the Cleveland Browns.”?
James Conner: Looked comfortable breaking arm tackles en route to 5.26 YPC in 19 attempts. His pass-catching fluidity caught Steeler fans off guard after his struggles in 2017.
Jaylen Samuels: The Steelers went for youth and potential and ignored his 3.07 yards-per-carry average and 6.25 yards-per-reception average in preseason. Roethlisberger will do a lot of 3-step drops or use an empty backfield if Samuels is in the game.
Stevan Ridley: Only a placeholder for when Bell reports. Offers zero special-teams value and will likely return to his sofa, where the Steelers found him camped out for the better part of two years.
Roosevelt Nix: Nix, a fan favorite, garnered his first Pro Bowl selection in 2017. (How many candidates were there?) Will he be asked to lead block more in 2018?
Antonio Brown: Brown has caught over 1,100 passes from Big Ben but will a lost preseason hurt their continuity? Not likely.
Justin Hunter: Can the perennial camp warrior turn the corner and produce during the regular season? No, as he’ll be a game-day inactive, barring injury.
Ryan Switzer: Steeler fans rejoice over the team’s new punt and kickoff returner. No more $17 million man not wanting to return punts and no more Fitz Toussaint.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Will he break 1,000 yards or will he be a victim of the dreaded sophomore slump? He’s too talented to dismiss him possibly being a part of a 1,000 yard duo.
James Washington: Flashed body control and solid NFL hands that made him a second-round selection. A big question is why his college speed wasn’t prevalent during the preseason.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: While some fans dislike DHB, he’s on the team strictly for his special-teams ability, an area where he’ rock solid.
James Washington: With the Steelers running 3-wide-receiver sets more than any other, it was important to list the first wide receiver off the bench. Washington should be that player due to his talent level. Steelers fans will know for sure once the team announces game-day inactives on Sunday.
Alejandro Villanueva: AV will never be confused with an elite left tackle, but he’s not being paid like one either. He’ll need help against a few of the elite pass-rushing specialists in 2018.
Chukwuma Okorafor: The rook held his own in the preseason, surprising everyone. But that doesn’t mean fans want to see him manning Ben’s blindside on Sundays.
Ramon Foster: Will he be healthy enough to play in Week 1 or be effective enough to keep his starting gig after a poor showing in 2017? This will be his last season as a Steeler.
B. J. Finney: Versatile, as he can play all three interior spots. Fans question whether he’s talented enough to take Foster’s job from him this year or next. Right now, he’s not consistent enough.
Maurkice Pouncey: Pro Football Focus pounded him with a poor grade last year (54.6 grade) — will he be better in their eyes this year? Will he be better in your eyes this year?
B. J. Finney: Read above.
David DeCastro: The best all-around guard in the league. Hard to believe he’s just 28 and the Steelers have him locked up through 2021.
Matt Feiler: Will be the second guard off of the bench as he’s settled into his more natural interior linemen position.
Marcus Gilbert: Injuries and suspension plagued his 2017 season will have him hungry to rebound and return to his prior form.
Zach Banner: Not a surprise that Pittsburgh kept nine linemen, but the surprise is the last man would be Banner rather than a free agent. Even at 6’8 and 360 pounds, he’ll be a weekly inactive as Coach Munchak works on his development (and eating habits).
Chukwuma Okorafor: The 2018 fourth-rounder will be the first player off the bench to give either tackle a breather or in case of injury.
Vance McDonald: Which will he have more of: dropped passes, touchdowns, or games played?
Jesse James: Besides his inability to block, he brings about the same skill set that Heath Miller would bring at age 38.
Xavier Grimble: The lack of competition keeps him on the roster, for now.
There it is Steelers fans, your 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive players. Fans know the initial depth chart and the chart at the end of the season will not be the same. Players will get hurt and released, while some may lose their starting spot due to performance. Other players are brought in to fill in or provide depth. Who is the most likely candidate to lose his starting spot? Who is the player most likely to lose his roster spot?