The kickoff to the 2022 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 2022 season. With no players actually setting foot on the field yet, it’s difficult to project who the bottom of the roster players will be. Regardless, BTSC editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman will give their input onto their thoughts of who will make the roster come September.
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: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: Before anyone takes a snap, I’m not ready to trade away a quarterback or be certain that Chris Oladokun grabs a position. All that can happen, but I want to see a little bit of quarterback play first.
Jeff: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: Chris Oladokun doesn’t make it to the team’s 53-man roster, but the hope is he is either stashed on Injured Reserve (IR) like Joshua Dobbs last season, or placed on the practice squad. If Oladokun plays well in the preseason, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the roster and another roster move being made, like a trade.
Running Back (3)
Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Mateo Durant
Analysis: I stole a position here in order to add an extra receiver. Did the Steelers really need four running backs and a fullback last year? I don’t think so. And why not throw in a UDFA to make the team somewhere? This is assuming the Steelers don’t add a veteran player before Week 1.
Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr. Anthony McFarland Jr.
Analysis: McFarland was a draft pick, and the Steelers still favor those players in these situations. Otherwise, I see Benny Snell being the No. 2 back regardless of the third player on this depth chart.
Dave: Derek Watt
Analysis: I’m not putting Connor Heyward in this category, so it stays with Watt. The shouting about the salary cap savings can now commence.
Jeff: Derek Watt
Analysis: The only true fullback on the team. Moving on...
Wide Receiver (6)
Dave: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski, Miles Boykin
Analysis: I specifically put Boykin at the end because if the Steelers only keep six wide receivers Gunner O should still be one of them as the returner. I see more value with an extra receiver than at running back the way Steelers are doing things. And the reason Boykin is the one at the end of the list is because he’s the most expensive of those who they may not keep.
Jeff: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski
Analysis: If there is a player whose roster spot isn’t guaranteed, it’s Boykin. Someone like Cody White or Anthony Miller could push him off the depth chart if they out-perform him in camp/preseason.
Tight End (3)
Dave: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
Analysis: I think this is the easiest spot to put Connor Heyward on the roster, but it’s not that it’s his only position. I know that Steelers also like Rader, but he is still a prime guy to make the practice squad.
Jeff: Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
Analysis: I could see the team possibly keeping a fourth tight end in Kevin Rader, and considering Heyward could fall under several categories on this prediction it could be feasible. As for now, I’ll still to these three.
Offensive Line (9)
Dave: Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, J.C. Hassenauer, John Leglue
Analysis: I went with nine offense of lineman because it makes sense for the Steelers to do so, but they could go with eight and call up players from the practice squad if there is an injury. I could see John Leglue landing on the practice squad instead of the 53, or they could make sure they protect him and go the route listed above.
Jeff: Chuks Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., Joe Haeg, John Leglue, James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenauer
Analysis: As of now I have Haeg beating out Chaz Green, but this is an area, primarily offensive tackle, where I could see the team making a move after cuts have been made. Otherwise, the interior of the line is constructed.
Total Offense: 25
Defensive Line (6 - Dave / 7 - Jeff)
Dave: Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams
Analysis: Here’s my first big surprise. I don’t have Stephon Tuitt in this group. There’s a chance he could land on the PUP list or something of that nature, but I’m just not sure yet. In other words, I’m not holding a roster spot for him and will adjust once we know it’s needed. I also think if the Steelers do have to it and keep an extra defensive lineman they might only go with four cornerbacks.
Jeff: Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Stephon Tuitt, Chris Wormley, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams
Analysis: What a depth chart along the defensive line. I think the team rolls with this group, and I also expect Tuitt back in the fold in 2022.
Outside Linebacker (4)
Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery
Analysis: With the way the roster stands now, I don’t see this being any different than these four players. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some depth added here before Week 1 if the Steelers don’t like what they’re getting in the preseason.
Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery
Analysis: Steelers save a roster spot with Avery being able to play both ILB and OLB. If a pass rusher is released by someone, the Steelers could add at this position.
Inside Linebacker (5)
Dave: Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson
Analysis: The top two guys I believe are safe, and I would even put Spillane in that category. I’m getting the feeling that there’s four dogs and two bones between Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson, Marcus Allen, and Ulysees Gilbert III. I’m just hoping the young guys show they can play and get the spots.
Jeff: Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson
Analysis: While it’s no guarantee Robinson makes the roster, I think he’ll be a very good special teams player for the Steelers. There is value in that, and so I think he makes the team.
Cornerback (5 - Dave / Jeff - 4)
Dave: Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Arthur Maulet, James Pierre
Analysis: I see Maulet sticking around for sub packages, and James Pierre and Justin Layne both fighting for what is, at most, one spot and could even be zero spots if the Steelers want to keep more on the defensive line.
Jeff: Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, James Pierre
Analysis: Going into a season with just four cornerbacks isn’t ideal, but the Steelers will likely utilize some of their safeties as slot cornerbacks. This makes Arthur Maulet expendable, and why I chose him to not make the team.
Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Analysis: Karl Joseph could also be in the mix here, but it would be difficult for the Steelers to keep six safeties. Since he was on the practice squad for most of 2021, I’m sending him back there and going with the other players.
Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Analysis: For those who freaked out over having four cornerbacks, Norwood and Edmunds will likely help round out the defensive back depth chart by playing more flex positions.
Total Defense: 25
Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz
Analysis: Last year I went with these three players throughout most of the offseason despite there being battles at two of the spots. I don’t see the same battles this season.
Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz
Analysis: No need to make any changes, as of yet.
Total Team: 53
We break down the 53-man roster further on the latest episode of the “Let’s Ride” podcast. You can check out the latest episode in the player below: