The kickoff to the 2021 NFL preseason is just about three 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 2021 season. With no players actually setting foot on the field, it’s difficult to project who the bottom of the roster players will be. Regardless, BTSC co-editors Dave Scofield and Jeff Hartman will give their input onto their thoughts of who will make the roster come September.
Just like in 2020, it is still a 53-man roster. While last year some believed the roster was actually increased to 55 players, it was the possible elevation of two practice squad players who were eligible to move up to the roster each week without displacing any other players which had caused some confusion. Not that we’ve had a year to get used to it, hopefully there is no need to explain why it is a 53-man roster.
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, Josh Dobbs
Analysis: People may be shocked that I left Haskins off the list, but I’m not moving him in until I see what he can do in black and gold.
Jeff: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
Analysis: The Steelers might have taken a flier on Haskins, but he also could represent the future of the position. No one thinks Dobbs is the future of the position for the Steelers, in fact, it really comes down to Rudolph and Haskins for that role, who are currently on the roster. Therefore, I see Dobbs as nothing but an insurance policy for training camp/preseason play in case Haskins stinks up the joint.
Running Back (4)
Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: For some reason I just feel like Samuels gets another shot with Canada and Ballage ends up being the odd man out.
Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: Does anyone thing Ballage will actually make the team? I don’t.
Dave: Derek Watt
Analysis: Move along… nothing to see here.
Jeff: Derek Watt
Analysis: What he said...
Wide Receiver (5)
Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: They rode with these five last year, and they’re all back for 2021. Roll it again.
Jeff: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Dionate Johnson, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: Barring an injury, this is their crew in 2021.
Tight End (3)
Dave: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Kevin Rader
Analysis: For some reason I really like Rader special teams contributions. If they keep a third tight end, I think it’s him.
Jeff: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
Analysis: Gentry missed the vast majority of last season with a knee injury, but he was a drafted player. For that reason, and that reason alone, I give him the nod over Rader.
Offensive Line (9)
Dave: David DeCastro, Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore Jr, Rashaad Coward
Analysis: The only real questions come at the bottom of the list. I like the potential of Coward at guard more than Hassenauer and I don’t know that the Steelers need three centers.
Jeff: David DeCastro, Zach Banner, Chuks Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore, J.C. Hassenauer
Analysis: The drafting of Green gives the Steelers some depth on the interior of the offensive line, and I just don’t see Rashaad Coward sticking around.
Total Offense: 25
Defensive Line (6)
Dave: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: As much as I’d like to leave Loudermilk out, the Steelers aren’t going to trade up for him just to cut him. Davis showed a lot last year, so I think it’s Buggs and Mondeaux that get pushed out. They could keep one more and cut a position somewhere else.
Jeff: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: I agree with Dave here, but I think they find a way to keep Buggs, I just haven’t figured out where I would create that roster spot this early in the game.
Outside Linebacker (4)
Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: I was really tempted to write TBD in the fourth spot, but I guess Marsh can stick around with the special teams contributions. If someone else comes along who is capable of taking the field, they move into that spot.
Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: The only thing I would add here is an asterisk for a player to be added, because I think they will add a pass rusher before the start of training camp.
Inside Linebacker (5)
Dave: Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III
Analysis: I really feel it comes down to UG3 and Marcus Allen for the final linebacker spot as they will keep an extra one since they seem to be thin on the outside.
Jeff: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Vince Williams, Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III
Analysis: The roster spot I spoke of along the defensive line could come from cutting ties with UG3. The kid just can’t stay healthy, but if he can he brings an athleticism to the inside linebacker position which could be useful.
Dave: Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Shakur Brown
Analysis: Why not keep another UDFA to round out the group?
Jeff: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Shakur Brown
Analysis: Here is another position I could see an asterisk there to denote a player added to the roster. As much as I like Brown as a prospect, I could see him on the practice squad as the Steelers bring in a veteran to help the secondary.
Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks Jr., Lamont Wade
Analysis: I put Killebrew here where I believe he belongs, and I went with Lamont Wade over Tre Norwood simply because I can’t see all nine draft picks making the roster.
Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks, Tre Norwood
Analysis: The Steelers value their draft picks, almost to a fault. Norwood is a versatile player, who can also play cornerback, and this will equate to a spot on the roster. Mike Tomlin loves players who are versatile.
Total Defense: 25
Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Jeff gets his wish! You’re not going to draft a punter to not give him a job unless he royally screws it up.
Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday
Analysis: As much as I want to get excited about Jordan Berry not being on this list, I also realize the Steelers started the 2020 season without Berry, and he found his way back onto the roster. I won’t be happy until Pressley Harvin boots Berry out of a job permanently.