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Steelers 53-man roster projection, version 1.0: Training camp kickoff edition

With Steelers camp beginning this week, let’s take a look at what their final roster could look like ahead of Week 1.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers report for training camp this Wednesday, and will begin practices on Thursday. While Pittsburgh will begin the preseason with 90 players, only 53 will make the final cut. Several positions are mostly locked down, but there are multiple players that will be handed their walking papers which may surprise fans.

Without further ado, here is who I expect to be on the Steelers’ final 53-man roster.

Offense (25)

Quarterbacks (3: Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph)

No surprises on this one. This is Pickett’s team, and he’ll have two reliable backups behind him.

Running Backs (4: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland, Jordan Byrd)

This will be somewhat of a hot take, but Jordan Byrd is making the team. He was incredibly explosive at San Diego State as a gadget guy and as a returner. The Steelers will find a spot for him. Besides that, we know Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren will be the predominant 1-2 punch out of the backfield. with McFarland being available in case of injury.

Fullbacks (1: Connor Heyward)

There is no point for Derek Watt to continue having a roster spot on this team when Connor Heyward can do far more.

Wide Receivers (6: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Hakeem Butler)

The top four spots are all but locked in. Miles Boykin will get a spot for his role on special teams, which leaves the sixth and final spot up for grabs.

If Jordyn Byrd does make the team as the Steelers' return ace as I project, there will be no reason to keep Gunner Olszewski. That will open up a spot for the XFL standout Hakeem Butler.

Tight Ends: (3: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, Zach Gentry)

This is going to be a dominant group of tight ends. Freiermuth will be the safety blanket for Kenny Pickett in the passing game, while Gentry will come in during some heavy sets to provide extra blocking support, and Washington will give a healthy balance of both, as well as incredible athleticism.

Offensive Linemen (8: Broderick Jones, James Daniels, Mason Cole, Issac Seumalo, Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore, Nate Herbig, Kevin Dotson)

I don’t see Kendrick Green making it out of camp. He’s been nothing short of a liability since being drafted. Broderick Jones will be the starting left tackle, but keeping Moore as a backup, as well as Dotson and Herbig as interior depth is certainly better than in years past, and seems like the direction Pittsburgh will go.

Defense (25)

Defensive Linemen (7: Cam Heyward, Keannu Benton, Larry Ogunjobi, DeMarvin Leal, Breiden Fehoko, Montravius Adams, Armon Watts)

I don’t think Isaiahh Loudermilk makes the cut. Adams has proven to be reliable depth, and I don’t see him beating out Armon Watts or Breiden Fehoko, both of whom were added via free agency and were more productive with their former teams than Loudermilk was in 2022. Expect a healthy dose of young guys like Leal and Benton, as both will be expected to be reliable contributors.

Linebackers: (8: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Markus Golden, Nick Herbig, Mark Robinson, Tanner Muse,)

It would make sense for the Steelers to add another off-ball linebacker. I don’t love that aspect of their defense, but I see Tanner Muse beating out Nick Kwiatkoski. Off the edge, Watt and Highsmith will be the go-to duo with Golden and Herbig providing depth

Cornerbacks: (6: Patrick Peterson, Joey Porter Jr, Levi Wallace, Cory Trice, Duke Dawson, James Pierre)

Don’t be shocked if Pittsburgh takes their time with Porter and Trice. Levi Wallace is a capable starter on the outside. The nickel spot is where things get interesting. Chandon Sullivan was brought in from Minnesota, but he performed poorly as their slot guy in 2022. Duke Dawson is a name that could be this year’s Jaylen Warren — a guy who flies under the radar but wins a job in the preseason.

Safeties: (4: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Miles Killebrew, Keanu Neal)

This is the toughest position group to put a finger on what Pittsburgh may do. Outside of Minkah Fitzpatrick, there is a multitude of things that could happen at the strong safety spot. They brought in Keanu Neal from Tampa Bay, whose versatility to play inside the box is his strong suit. Miles Killebrew is a special teams ace, so he isn’t going anywhere. I wouldn’t imagine Damonte Kazee would get waived, which leaves former seventh-round pick Tre Norwood. I highly doubt the Steelers carry five safeties. I suspect it will come down to Neal or Norwood, and Norwood may be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

(Chris Boswell, Braden Mann, Christian Kuntz)

Braden Mann is winning the competition at punter. Pressley Harvin has been a major disappointment, and the Steelers recognize that. Boswell and Kuntz remain the norm at kicker and longsnapper, respectively.