With one more preseason game to go, a majority of the roster spots for the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers are spoken for. Which means that 40-some guys can make their real estate plans for Autumn in Allegheny County. While quite a few of those guys won’t be in uniform on Thursday night, there’s a select group of guys that are on the proverbial bubble and will be fighting for their Steel City football lives in the Tar Heel State. Those that fall short on their bid to be a Steeler will be auditioning for opportunities in 29 other NFL locales. In that spirit, BTSC has selected ten guys that aren’t guaranteed to be donning the black and the gold hopefully ten more times in Heinz Field until the beginning of February and ranked them based on their possibility of making the 53-Man Roster. Note: No 2019 draft selections were included on this list.
Let’s take a look...
1) Kameron Kelly
The Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet gave us two things...pretty cool jerseys and Kameron Kelly. Even before the recent injury to Sean Davis in Tennessee, the combo cornerback/safety seemed to be a good bet to make the 53-Man Roster come next week. He has great size and seems to be in the action early and often. The big questions now seem to be regarding what jersey number he will be sporting (since No. 38 is occupied by Jaylen Samuels) and will he actually be called upon to start in New England Week 1.
2) Tuzar Skipper
When Skipper burst upon the scene at Rookie Minicamp as another edge rushing linebacker from Toledo like his former and current teammate Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, he seemed like the longest of long shots aside from the menacing look. Now after nine tackles and three sacks in three preseason games, Steeler Nation has taken notice. With Adeniyi injured, Skipper could have a better shot. But it all depends on the number of OLBs the team keeps. Last year it was only three (T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo) to start the regular season.
3) Marcus Allen
This is an interesting one. Allen hits like a truck and plays with passion. The ex-Nittany Lion has ten tackles in three preseason games and looks to be in a battle with Jordan Dangerfield and Kam Kelly. How many safeties do the Steelers keep? That is undetermined, but his play in exhibition action has helped Marcus a lot.
4) Diontae Spencer
First and foremost, I absolutely love this dude. No...I’m not interested in showering with him while listening to smooth Jodeci jams from the 90s, but I desperately want to see this guy as the top returner for the 2019 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Spencer is only 5’8” but plays much bigger. Currently, Ryan Switzer is the incumbent as a returner. However, it’s not a question of if Spence breaks one for a score...it is definitely when.
5) Devlin Hodges
The man known as “Duck Dynasty” is definitely a darling of Steelers’ faithful this preseason and has played with poise and passion in two games this season. Hodges is 10/18 with 117 yards and two touchdowns thrown and leads all Steeler QBs with a rating of 112.5. Although fans want Devlin to stick around, the likelihood of the team trading or cutting Josh Dobbs is slim. But then again, so was the same scenario last year with Landry Jones and Dobbs.
6) Robert Spillane
Spillane has a crowd to deal with at the ILB position and has an uphill battle to make it. But the grandson of the Steelers’ top draft pick of 1954 is tied for second in tackles (12) this preseason and has stood out. Unfortunately, his competition, Tyler Matakevich (13 tackles) and Ulysses Gilbert III (12 tackles), are high on that list as well.
7) Fred Johnson
At 6’7” and 326 lbs, the Florida Gator is huge for a guard and has played extremely well in the preseason. While the Steelers may take nine men to make up the o-line, it depends just how many backup guards get called.
9) Johnny Holton
Holton looked like a potential lock to assume the Darius Heyward-Bey role on Special Teams and as an emergency receiver after Week One against Tampa Bay. But to quote the 1986 version of the Monkees, “That was then, this is now”. Holton struggled and looked merely pedestrian and saw less action in Week Three. His speed is great, but his stock has plummeted.
9) Brian Allen
When the 6’3” CB was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Utah, Allen was considered a project. With a lack of significant production and playing time, it seems like the plug may be pulled on said project.
10) Jerald Hawkins
Although he has dealt with serious injuries in his four years as a Steeler, Hawkins has shown very little this exhibition season to garner consideration over Zack Banner and Chuks Okorafor. A guy like the previously-mentioned Johnson seems to have more upside to be kept on the O-line (I know he’s a Guard and Hawkins is a Tackle) over the LSU product.
There are many significant names not selected for this list like Henry Mondeaux, Casey Sayles, Kevin Rader, Drayvon Askew-Henry and Eli Rogers. But their fates and those of the above-listed players will be much clearer on Saturday at four. Stay with BTSC for all roster-related news.