The day after Week 4 of the NFL Preseason should be re-named 53-man roster prediction day. Every outlet, for every team, across the nation is putting out a 53-man roster projection today, including us, but the fact is these decisions come down to just a few players/positions.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have a couple positions and players who could be viewed as being on the roster “bubble”. Granted, many of these scenarios are tied together. For instance, if the Steelers don’t keep 6 wide receivers, it could give them the flexibility to keep an extra offensive lineman. If they choose to go into the season with just 4 natural safeties, it impacts the rest of the players on the roster fringe.
Not every position has these battles. The backup quarterback role has seemingly been decided, hence why it isn’t listed here among these decisions which need to be made. However, for this exercise you have to take a look at the position and figure out which player should stay in the current scenario.
In other words, you be Kevin Colbert/Mike Tomlin here, and make the tough decisions at each position!
Take a look at the players on the “bubble”:
Running Back: Benny Snell Jr., Trey Edmunds
The Steelers won’t go into the season with just two running backs, James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, so who makes the team as RB3?
Tight End: Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader
Pittsburgh’s tight end depth is atrocious, but did Rader do enough, mainly as a blocker, to push the rookie off the roster and become a practice squad hopeful?
Wide Receiver: Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer, Johnny Holton, Dionate Spencer
Let’s assume the Steelers keep six wide receivers? Do the following make the team?
Who from the above receivers makes the squad? And what if they only keep 5 instead of 6?
Offensive Line: Zach Banner, Fred Johnson, Jerald Hawkins, Derwin Gray
It wasn’t a pretty showing for the backup offensive linemen vs. the Panthers in Week 4. Assuming Chukwuma Okorafor is a lock to make the team, who else makes the squad along the offensive line?
Defensive Line: Isaiah Buggs
Did Buggs show enough to make the roster? Or do they turn him into a practice squad hopeful and roll with Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu and Daniel McCullers?
Outside Linebacker: Tuzar Skipper, Anthony Chickillo (injury)
Chickillo and Ola Adeniyi are both banged up, Adeniyi seems more serious, but is there any scenario where Chickillo is let go, or placed on IR, and Skipper takes his place? This is assuming the team wants to keep that many OLBs on their 53-man roster.
Inside Linebacker: Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert
Gilbert impressed throughout the preseason, while Matakevich was a player who remained the same. No better, no worse as he completes the last year of his rookie contract. Would the team consider ditching Matakevich for the rookie from Akron? Or do they both find a home on the 53?
Safety: Jordan Dangerfield, Marcus Allen
One of the more difficult positions to predict is what the Steelers do at safety. Kam Kelly is a lock, in my opinion, so who makes the team as safety No. 4?
Punter: Jordan Berry, Ian Berryman
Berry has won the job again, if you ask me, but does anyone see Berryman as providing enough on special teams for him to take over for the incumbent Berry?
While this is similar to a 53-man roster prediction, I wanted to focus on those players who are truly on the roster bubble. Everyone knows Ben Roethlisberger is making the team, but some of these other battles are tough decisions for the organization.
Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC as the preseason talk quickly evaporates, and regular season Week 1 begins to dominate the conversation!