The kickoff to the 2021 NFL preseason has begun for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Hall of Fame Game now behind us, there was finally a chance to see a portion of the Steelers roster in action to help better assess which players will or will not make the final cut later this month. Based on just the one preseason game, BTSC editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman will give their thoughts of who will make the roster come August 31. Any changes from their last roster prediction before training camp will be noted.
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, Dwayne Haskins
Changes: Dwayne Haskins in, Josh Dobbs out
Analysis: I said I wouldn’t put in Haskins until I actually saw him play. It’s not like he did anything far above Josh Dobbs, I just feel the Steelers have shown us their hierarchy of quarterbacks for the time being.
Jeff: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
Analysis: As much as I would like to see Dobbs and Haskins make up the three quarterbacks, I don’t see it happening. I want to see more out of Haskins, especially considering what we saw from him last Thursday night, but right now I still think he makes the roster over Dobbs.
Running Back (4)
Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr, Anthony McFarland,
Jaylen Samuels, Kalen Ballage
Changes: Jaylen Samuels out, Kalen Ballage in
Analysis: Even with Ballage now suffering from injury, he put some good tape out there last Thursday. Jaylen Samuels did not. I’m keeping Benny Snell until I can see what he can do. If he doesn’t get on the field, or does not impress when he finally does, the Steelers may only keep three running backs.
Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland,
Jaylen Samuels, Kalen Ballage
Changes: Jaylen Samuels out, Kalen Ballage in
Analysis: Yes, I still think Benny Snell makes the roster, and also yes I believe Ballage did enough to also make the roster. Can he keep the job? The rest of the preseason will be telling for this running back position.
Dave: Derek Watt
Analysis: Move along… still nothing to see here. The only exception is if Trey Edmunds goes enough for the Steelers to consider both players. The Steelers kept two fullbacks in 2015.
Jeff: Derek Watt
Analysis: Unless the Steelers decide to keep Trey Edmunds as a RB/FB/Special Teams player, this position is set.
Wide Receiver (5)
Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: The most likely route for a change here would be either a trade, or choosing to keep an extra player. But with Eric Ebron almost acting like a wide receiver at times, the Steelers are more likely to keep it extra tight end.
Jeff: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Analysis: Barring an injury, this is their crew in 2021.
Tight End (3)
Dave: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
Analysis: As stated before, the Steelers could go with four tight ends and keep Kevin Rader as well. If so, it would almost be to a point where Ebron is treated more like a wide receiver.
Jeff: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
Analysis: Gentry has been impressive so far in training camp, but I can’t get that Kevin Rader pancake block vs. the Dallas Cowboys out of my head. I would love for the Steelers to keep four tight ends, but I just don’t see it happening. Not at this point at least.
Offensive Line (9)
Dave: Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, Trai Turner, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore Jr., Rashaad Coward
Analysis: I know it would be strange to not keep the player currently listed as the starter at center, but either somebody has got to go or they keep an extra lineman. Looking at this list, Hassenauer is not better than anybody else ahead of him.
Jeff: Trai Turner, Zach Banner, Chuks Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore,
J.C. Hassenauer, Rashaad Coward
Changes: J.C. Hassenauer out, Rashaad Coward in
Analysis: The Steelers clearly want to give Kendrick Green every opportunity to be the starting center. This then leaves the best depth to be the player with more position flexibility. That is B.J. Finney, in my opinion. What does this have to do with Coward? He has been the starting guard throughout camp while Kevin Dotson returns from injury. He should, and most likely will, make the roster.
Total Offense: 25
Defensive Line (6)
Dave: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: I think Mondeaux is the most likely player to make the team in addition to or in place of someone on the list. I’m probably the least confident in Chris Wormley out of everyone listed.
Jeff: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk
Analysis: I think they find a way to keep Buggs, but I just haven’t figured out where I would create that roster spot this early in the preseason. Sometimes injuries help sort these things out.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: Although I don’t know that the Steelers need five outside linebackers with their top three being who they are, I don’t see them giving up on Roche or Marsh.
Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh
Analysis: This position group went from a glaring weakness before camp started, to a strength. Adding Ingram, and seeing the trajectory of Highsmith is exciting. Now if Watt and the Steelers can just come to terms on a new contract...
Inside Linebacker (4)
Dave: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson,
Ulysees Gilbert III, Marcus Allen
Changes: Ulysees Gilbert III out, Marcus Allen in
Analysis: I don’t think Gilbert or Allen were overly impressive last week, but the Steelers seem to like Allen despite UG3 getting the start. I don’t see the Steelers keeping them both at this point. Two dogs, one bone.
Jeff: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III
Analysis: I know UG3 didn’t have a good game last week, but I am not about to have a knee jerk reaction to his performance. I expect the Steelers won’t either, and barring him repeating that performance three more times, I still think he makes the 53-man rostesr.
Dave: Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre,
Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, Shakur Brown
Changes: Justin Layne out, Shakur Brown in
Analysis: I finally did it. I see too much upside in players like Maulet and Brown and just don’t see the development of Layne after more than two seasons.
Jeff: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet
Analysis: Shakur Brown’s special teams play almost has him unseating Maulet for the final spot, but I don’t want to pull that trigger yet. The UDFA has to continue to make plays.
Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks Jr., Tre Norwood
Analysis: I’m actually very confident this will be the group at this time. The starters are there, Killebrew and Norwood are the obvious reserves and playing well, and Brooks has a chance to be the starting nickel. It will be hard for anyone else to crack their way in unless they consider Brooks a cornerback and keep another safety.
Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks, Tre Norwood
Analysis: Norwood might be the biggest surprise of this group. As a 7th round draft pick, not much is expected out of him, but he has shown up and proven he can be a valuable asset in the back end of the defense.
Total Defense: 25
Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Believe it or not, out of these three I’m the least confident in Canaday.
Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday
Analysis: The only thing keeping Pressley Harvin from not being written on the 53-man roster in pen, is consistency. He had a heck of a game vs. Dallas, but can he duplicate it? At this point, I think he can.