The Pittsburgh Steelers preseason is heading into the final game on Thursday night. Taking on the Carolina Panthers for the seventeenth straight preseason, the Steelers are headed to Charlotte with the main goal of determining which players will round out their 53-man roster and 11-man practice squad for 2019. With the projected starters for the regular season getting the night off, reserve players will get their chance to see extended playing time in order to showcase their skills.
With statistical outcomes for this game being virtually meaningless, it doesn’t make much sense to attempt to predict the outcome. Therefore, in this week’s installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at the number of roster positions I feel are up for grabs on Thursday night.
By my estimation, there are 37 of the 53 roster positions which are secure at the moment. I have 17 on offense (QB: 2, RB: 3, TE: 1, WR: 4, and OL: 7) while the defense has 18 players (DL: 5, OLB: 2, ILB: 3, CB: 6, S: 2). These totals come to 35 players due to the placekicker and long snapper being the other two. Notable players I did not include are Xavier Grimble, Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers, Anthony Chickillo, and Tyler Matakevich. Players who I did consider locks were Mason Rudolph, Artie Burns, Daniel McCullers, and the top three drafted rookies of 2019.
If 37 players are locked-in to their roster spots, that leaves 16 spots left in order to get to 53. On offense, I have two spots available for each of the tight ends, wide receivers, and offensive linemen while one one spot is up for grabs for quarterbacks, and running backs. As for the defense, I have room for possibly one more defensive lineman, four linebackers (either inside or outside), and two safeties. The cornerbacks are the only position on either offense or defense I feel are already totally locked in. As for the specialists, I believe the punting job is still up in the air.
After the 53-main roster has been filled, the Steelers have an additional 11 spots on their 2019 practice squad. With Christian Scotland-Williamson recieveing an exemption due to the International Player Pathway Program, the Steelers get to keep an additional spot. While players cut from the Steelers to get down to 53 could be claimed off of waivers by any other team, those players are free to sign with the Steelers or any other NFL team.
Adding up the 16 roster spots and the 11 possible practice squad positions, the Steelers have 27 positions up for grabs Thursday night. This assumes the Steelers are going to pull their practice squad players from their current preseason roster which does not have to be the case. When the Steelers have had a losing preseason record, they have looked other places to fill out the majority of their practice squad. With the Steelers currently undefeated in the 2019 preseason, I am going to assume they could very well keep their entire practice squad from their current preseason roster.
If the Steelers have 37 positions locked down already for 2019 and have as many as 27 spots available for players to show they deserve a spot for the team, that leaves at least 27 players on the current preseason roster who will not find themselves as a Pittsburgh Steeler come next Sunday afternoon. This means that only 50% of the players could make the team in some fashion. More importantly, at least 50% of the players fighting for a roster spot will not make the team.
So there are some numbers estimating how many positions are available for players to earn based on their play Thursday night. Do you think these numbers are somewhat accurate? Would you change anything based on your observations? Please leave your answers in the comments below!