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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 53-man roster: Pre-training camp

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With training camp right around the corner, it’s time to make our predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The scheduled start of Steelers training camp in only ten days away. While acknowledging there is still a lot of uncertainty with the 2020 NFL season, we are ready to go full-steam ahead when it comes to predicting the Steelers roster for Week 1. Since I already did this exercise once in May, I will be noting any changes from my previous selections.

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. Here is the direct wording from the CBA:

During the regular season and postseason, a Club’s Active/Inactive List shall not exceed 53 players unless a Club has chosen to elevate either one or two players from its Practice Squad to its Active/Inactive List, in accordance with the procedures set forth in Article 33, Section 5 of this Agreement.

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!

Offense


Quarterback (3)

Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges

Changes: Hodges in, Paxton Lynch out

Analysis: I was looking forward to the quarterback battle during the preseason. I thought Lynch would earn the spot initially if given a full body of work from what would be anticipated in 5 preseason games. With the possibility of no games, the opportunity might not be there for the taking.


Running Back (4)

James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland

Changes: None

Analysis: The Steelers typically carry three running backs to start the season. They finished the 2019 season with five although partially due to the fact they had no fullback. I think they find a way to squeeze four and hope to get Kerrith Whyte Jr. onto the practice squad (an article specifically on Whyte we be out later today, so stay tuned).


Fullback (1)

Derek Watt

Changes: None

Analysis: You don’t pay a fullback almost $10 million for 3 years to carry a second one on the team.


Wide Receiver (6)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, Deon Cain, Ryan Switzer

Analysis: It’s the Ben Roethlisberger factor when it comes to Switzer. I think the Steelers stick with the familiar faces again with Amara Darboh the biggest candidate to push someone off the roster.


Tight End (3)

Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: This is a big question right here. The Steelers could go with only two tight ends and try to keep players like Gentry, Kevin Rader, or Christian Scotland-Williamson on the practice squad and pull them up due to injury with the new rules in place.


Offensive Line (8)

Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner, Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Dotson

Changes: None

Analysis: Here is a spot where I have the Steelers taking one less player to have the extra running back. If they make the reduction somewhere else instead, I see Derwin Gray as a likely inclusion.

Total Offense: 25


Defense


Defensive Line (6)

Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Daniel McCullers

Changes: McCullers in, Henry Mondeaux out

Analysis: After further consideration, I think the Steelers keep one traditional nose tackle for goal line/short yardage situations.


Outside Linebacker (5)

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper

Changes: None

Analysis: This is pretty much what the Steelers have at the position. I think they keep all five unless they end up with more than four inside linebackers as they generally stick with nine between the two positions.


Inside Linebacker (4)

Vince Williams, Devin Bush, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane

Changes: None

Analysis: There is a chance an undrafted rookie could make some noise, but with limited opportunities it will be tough. They would probably have to either beat out Spillane or be more of an asset on special teams than one of the outside linebackers. If they go with four, they may keep two inside backers on the practice squad.


Cornerback (5)

Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne,

Changes: None

Analysis: These five are the guys unless an undrafted player such as Trajan Bandy makes some noise with the limited time. If so, they could add a sixth corner at the expense of a safety.


Safety (5)

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Antoine Brooks Jr., Marcus Allen,

Analysis: With the Steelers only having five definites at cornerback, the three reserve safeties could all have a spot. If not, it could be three dogs, two bones. Don’t rule out the Steelers signing or trading for a reserve safety just before Week 1.

Total Defense: 25


Special Teams


Specialists (3)

Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday

Changes: None

Analysis: In the current world of uncertainties, I see the Steelers settling for the mediocre Jordan Berry rather than an unknown form anywhere else.


Total Team: 53