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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 53-man roster: Post preseason Week 1

With two preseason games down, have any new Steelers players made a push to land on the 53-man roster?

NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Steelers at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 NFL preseason is halfway down for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Week 1 of the preseason now behind us, there has now been two chances to see most 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 the preseason so far, 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!

Offense


Quarterback (3)

Dave: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins

Changes: None

Analysis: The game against the Eagles didn’t help Joshua Dobbs make a case to bump off one of the other quarterbacks.

Jeff: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins

Changes: None

Analysis: The longer the preseason goes, the more it looks like this position group is settled with the three listed above. Now, how those get placed behind Ben Roethlisberger is still uncertain.


Running Back (4)

Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage

Changes: None

Analysis: This is a position where I was tempted to cut a player in order to keep one somewhere else, but it would have been Benny Snell and I’d actually like to see him carry the football once before completely dismissing him.

Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage

Changes: None

Analysis: The only change I can foresee at this position would be if the team decides to keep Trey Edmunds as a FB/RB/H-Back. At this point, I don’t see it happening.


Fullback (1)

Dave: Derek Watt

Changes: None

Analysis: It wouldn’t be to knock Watt off, but Trey Edmunds is making a case to keep an extra fullback/running back.

Jeff: Derek Watt

Changes: None

Analysis: Unless the Steelers decide to keep Trey Edmunds as a RB/FB/H-Back/Special Teams player, this position is set.


Wide Receiver (5)

Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud

Changes: None

Analysis: I was really tempted to drop Ray-Ray McCloud and put another receiver on this list. The problem was I wasn’t sure which one so I didn’t make the change.

Jeff: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud

Changes: None

Analysis: Barring an injury, this is their crew in 2021.


Tight End (3)

Dave: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: This one is becoming much more clear, unless the Steelers keep four which would obviously be Kevin Rader.

Jeff: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

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, J.C. Hassenauer

Changes: Rashaad Coward out, J.C. Hasenauer in

Analysis: I would really like to keep 10 offensive linemen, but it just doesn’t make sense. Hassenauer has been playing well this preseason, so even though Coward has got snaps with the first team he still might be the odd man out.

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 in, Rashaad Coward out

Analysis: Kendrick Green is the center, and it finally became official this past week. However, Hassenauer seems to have cemented himself as the team’s backup center. This creates an awkward position at guard. I think the Steelers like Finney at guard, his stronger position, and Coward is just the odd man out with Dotson back to health.

Total Offense: 25


Defense


Defensive Line (6)

Dave: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk

Changes: None

Analysis: For some reason, I have a feeling that between Davis, Buggs, and Mondeaux, the Steelers keep the one who is least likely to sneak through to the practice squad. I almost put Abdullah Anderson in place of Davis, but then the Steelers released him this past week despite quality play in the Hall of Fame Game.

Jeff: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk

Changes: None

Analysis: I don’t see this list changing anytime soon. In fact, I think it would take an injury to change the list. Maybe they keep Isaiah Buggs or Henry Mondeaux, but there are only so many spots on the roster.


Outside Linebacker (5)

Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh, Jamir Jones

Changes: Cassius Marsh out, Jamir Jones in

Analysis: Jones has been impressive although Cassius Marsh does bring experience. I could see Marsh being a player on and off the Steelers roster throughout the season.

Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Cassius Marsh, Jamir Jones

Changes: Cassius Marsh out, Jamir Jones in

Analysis: Agreeing with Dave this much is weird, but I don’t see much value in Marsh at this point. I think the Steelers have plenty of good special teams players, and Jones is a more well-rounded pass rusher. To me, the battle will be between Roche or Jones who gets a helmet each week.


Inside Linebacker (4)

Dave: Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen

Changes: Marcus Allen out, Joe Schobert in

Analysis: With Joe Schobert coming in and Spillane now being the main backup, I don’t know if the Steelers need more depth than four players.

Jeff: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III, Joe Schobert

Changes: Ulysees Gilbert III out, Joe Schobert in

Analysis: The acquisition of Schobert means the end of the road for some known players, and in this prediction that player is UG3. Can Marcus Allen make the roster? If so, it won’t be as a linebacker.


Cornerback (5)

Dave: Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, Shakur Brown, Mark Gilbert

Changes: Shakur Brown & Arthur Maulet out, Justin Layne & Mark Gilbert in

Analysis: Why not shake up things a little bit here? Justin Layne looked much better last week despite an early shaky moment or two. I also think if the Steelers don’t hold onto Mark Gilbert he will get scooped up on waivers right away.

Jeff: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet

Changes: None

Analysis: The longer camp went on, it became increasingly clear this was the Steelers cornerback room. There will be other defensive backs to make plays, but these are likely your cornerbacks in Week 1.


Safety (5)

Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks Jr., Tre Norwood

Changes: None

Analysis: I was tempted to drop Brooks and keep the extra corner in Maulet. It really will come down to Brook’s availability.

Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks, Tre Norwood

Changes: None

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


Special Teams


Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday, Christian Kuntz

Changes: Kameron Canaday out, Christian Kuntz in

Analysis: I pulled the trigger on the long snapper as it would save the Steelers a little bit of money and I don’t know if there is any drop off to Kuntz.

Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday

Changes: None

Analysis: The only thing keeping Pressley Harvin from not being written on the 53-man roster in pen, is consistency. Jordan Berry is fighting for his Steelers’ career, and he is kicking well. This punter battle is anything but complete with two exhibition games left.


Total Team: 53


Practice Squad

Dave:
QB Josh Dobbs
RB Pete Gurriero
RB Trey Edmunds
TE Kevin Rader
WR Ricco Bussey
WR Matthew Sexton
WR Anthony Johnson
G Malcolm Pridgeon
T Chaz Green
DT Henry Mondeaux
DT Isaiah Buggs
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
ILB Marcus Allen
CB Shakur Brown
CB Lafayette Pitts
S Lamont Wade

Analysis: I will admit that I did not check the status of every player to see whether or not they count as a veteran or not. The Steelers are allowed to keep six, and players such as Joshua Dobbs and Trey Edmonds definitely count. I didn’t keep some of the Steelers riskier cuts such as Rashaad Coward and Cassius Marsh as they are just as likely to end up on another team. I would also almost guarantee that a couple of the next five cuts coming next week are on this list. As you can tell, my confidence in this list is quite low.

Jeff:

I don’t do practice squad predictions. I don’t know enough about these fringe players to make an educated guess.

See Dave’s answer above.