The scheduled beginning of the 2020 NFL season is just about four months away. While numerous things can happen between now and then, it’s time to give our way-too-early predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster to begin the 2020 season. With no players actually setting foot on the field, it’s difficult to project who the bottom of the roster players will be. Both BTSC deputy editor Dave Scofield and editor Jeff Hartman will give their input onto their thoughts of who will make the roster come September.
For those unsure exactly how the NFL rosters will work this season, it is still a 53-man roster. While some believe the roster is actually at 55 players, each team will only have 53 as they prepare each week for their opponent. Two practice squad players (from now a pool of 12 compared to 10 in 2019) will be eligible to move up to the roster without displacing any other players. The first two times a player is called up they will not have to clear waivers to go back onto the practice squad.
As always, we welcome you to join the conversation in our comment section below this article. Let your voice be heard and join in the black-and-gold conversation!
Dave: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch
Analysis: The top two spots are pretty set, but the battle between Lynch, Devlin Hodges, and J.T. Barrett for the final QB position on the roster will be interesting. Since this may be Lynch’s last chance in the NFL, I see him grasping the opportunity.
Analysis: I tend to agree that Paxton Lynch would bring more upside to Devlin Hodges, and if he were in the system longer would have been a better option down the stretch than “Duck”. Sad to say, but the Duck Dynasty ends in 2020.
Running Back (4)
Dave: James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland
Analysis: The Steelers typically carry three backs to start the season, but since they dressed five at the end of last season caring four is not a stretch.
Analysis: I like them keeping four running backs, especially with Conner’s health history, but the team never admits draft failures, which is why Samuels and Snell make it over Kerrith Whyte Jr.
Dave: Derek Watt
Analysis: Even with another full back on the 90-man roster, this is an easy choice.
Analysis: Nothing to discuss here...you don’t bring in Watt as a free agent to have a camp battle.
Wide Receiver (6)
Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Deon Cain, Ryan Switzer
Analysis: While many would like to see Switzer knocked off of this list, you can’t rule out the Roethlisberger factor.
Jeff: Out Switzer, in Saeed Blacknall
Analysis: While I think the Steelers could keep Switzer on the roster, I see Blacknall being a player they like as more of a threat, and he pushes Switzer off the roster.
Tight End (3)
Dave: Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry
Analysis: The Steelers could try to sneak gentry onto the practice squad and pull him up when needed if they wanted to keep an extra player at another position.
Analysis: I hate agreeing with Dave this much...
Offensive Line (8)
Dave: Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Dotson
Analysis: Although the Steelers usually keep nine, having the option to pull up an extra lineman from the practice squad will allow them to use the extra position elsewhere.
Jeff: Same, but could be a change
Analysis: I really like Derwin Gray. Call it a gust instinct, but I think he has a chance to force the Steelers keeping 9 linemen on the roster and maybe have them keep just 5 wide receivers, or 3 running backs.
Total Offense: 25
Defensive Line (6)
Dave: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Henry Mondeaux
Analysis: While many are arguing over rookie Carlos Davis and Daniel McCullers as to who will make the squad, last season’s practice squad fixture Henry Mondeaux sneaks onto the 53-man roster instead.
Analysis: I have openly said on our podcasts that I think McCullers time with the team is up, and I meant it. However, Mondeaux is really going to have to show something to beat out the Shade Tree.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Dave: T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper
Analysis: These five are really the only players they have on the roster right now unless one of the XFL players slides out from defensive line. The only way this changes is if the Steelers find and keep another inside linebacker as they usually keep nine between the two.
Analysis: Agreeing with Dave is frustrating...
Inside Linebacker (4)
Dave: Vince Williams, Devin Bush, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane
Analysis: This is one position the Steelers could still bring in a player, but for now these are the four with which they will roll.
Jeff: Robert Spillane out, Free Agent in
Analysis: I don’t think Spillane is the answer, as it pertains to quality depth. And I think the Steelers will go out and get another player to help fill out the ILB depth.
Dave: Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne,
Analysis: The Steelers usually keep 10 defensive backs. I would keep a sixth corner, but other than undrafted rookie Trajan Bandy, no one really jumps out to take the spot.
Analysis: The Steelers have one of the best secondaries in the league...no need to change it.
Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr., Marcus Allen,
Analysis: If the Steelers only have five corners to keep, then all five of the safeties should be safe. If not, Marcus Allen could be back on the practice squad again in 2020.
Jeff: Marcus Allen out
Analysis: I could see the Steelers keeping just 4 safeties if it means they carry another offensive linemen, or another position. Allen has had multiple shots to make his impact on the roster, and has never lived up to the hype.
Total Defense: 25
Dave: Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Although I’m not convinced Jordan Barry will be punting for the Steelers this season, I’m not sure Corliss Waitman is the person to take the job. If he loses it, it will probably be to someone who is cut from another NFL team before the start of the season.
Jeff: Jordan Berry out, anyone who can kick in
Analysis: The Steelers brought in competition at the punter position, and I just pray he is good enough to supplant Berry.