Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Pre-Training Camp

By Jeremy Hritz

With only 12 days before the Steelers report to training camp to begin preparing for the 2021 season, the anticipation and excitement is growing about which players will progress and emerge and vault the team back into contention. Conversely, there is also interest and curiosity surrounding which players will not make it through the cut down process, and what surprises await in terms of who makes the roster and who does not.

Below you will find my pre-training camp 53-man roster prediction for the Steelers, considering only those players who are currently slated to participate in training camp. While I do believe some moves will be made yet in free agency, I did not include these projections in this exercise.

The Biggest Questions

There were certain positions I struggled with determining how many players and who would make it onto the 53, specifically, offensive line, inside linebacker, and cornerback.

In terms of the offensive line, as it is such a question mark, I struggled hard to decide whether to keep 8 or 9. I like the veteran experience of Rashaad Coward and originally had him on the 53, but the Steelers have snatched up young, developmental offensive linemen in the past and stashed them on the practice squad. With this in mind, I kept Coward off the 53, which allowed me to keep 5 inside linebackers which I’ll explain my rationale for later. There is also the chance the team could cut Dan Moore, Jr. and hope he clears waivers and can be added to the practice squad, which would allow them to keep Coward, but as a 4th round pick, that is too risky. Something tells me they are not yet done with offensive line in free agency, but we will have to wait and see what transpires there.

At inside linebacker, I kept 5 on the roster, and I have Vince Williams making the team, and I am not yet ready to give up on Ulysses Gilbert III, and his athleticism sets him apart from the other ILBs on the roster. With the recent events on social media with Devin Bush, Williams’ leadership will be critical, and his experience and understanding of the defense is just too valuable to part with. Sure, we do not want him covering running backs or receivers, but his worth to the team goes beyond his production on the field.

At cornerback, I am keeping 6, and I have Justin Layne making the roster despite his struggles in his first two seasons. Additionally, due to the overall lack of speed from the cornerbacks, I have Mark Gilbert, the UDRFA from Duke, making the team, as he offers this element at the position. Gilbert struggled mightily with injuries in college which derailed his trajectory as a potential high-draft pick, but if he can stay healthy, he can boost the cornerback position.

Other Nuggets

I also have Dwyane Haskins beating out Joshua Dobbs for QB3, which should not come as too much of a surprise, as the Steelers will give him the time and resources necessary to see if he can develop.

At tight end, I have them holding on to their stock in Zach Gentry and giving him the opportunity to show he was worth the investment.

And finally, I have Pressley Harvin unseating Jordan Berry, and developing consistency in his punting. Being that the Steelers spent a draft pick on him, he will be given every opportunity to win the job, and I believe he will bring some wrinkles to special teams with his unique skill set.

This Is Tough

This is a tough exercise to determine who those 53 players who will make the final roster for the 2021 season, and it offers a small glimpse into the difficult decisions, and the domino effect that occurs when the Steelers organization determines personnel. My next version of the 53 will be published following the Hall of Fame Game on August 5th against the Cowboys.

Projected Steelers 53-Man Roster

PositionPlayerHeightWeightYear ExperienceCollege
3Ben Roethlisberger6’524017Miami (OH)
Mason Rudolph6’52353Oklahoma State
Dwayne Haskins6’42302Ohio State
Running Back
5Najee Harris6’1232RAlabama
Bennie Snell, Jr.5’102242Kentucky
Anthony McFarland5’81931Maryland
Kalen Ballage6’22313Arizona State
Derek Watt6’22345Wisconsin
Tight End
3Eric Ebron6’42537North Carolina
Pat Freiermuth6’5258RPenn State
Zach Gentry6’82652Michigan
Wide Receiver
5Juju Smith-Schuster6’12154USC
Chase Claypool6’42381Notre Dame
Dionate Johnson5’101832Toledo
James Washington5’112133Oklahoma State
RayRay McCloud5’91903Clemson
Offensive Line
8Kendrick Green6’4315RIllinois
Kevin Dotson6’43211UL Lafayette
Trai Turner6’33157LSU
Chukwuma Okorafor6’63203Western Michigan
Zach Banner6’83354USC
BJ Finney6’43185Kansas State
Joe Haeg6’62985North Dakota State
Dan Moore, Jr.6’5311RTexas A&M
Defensive Line
6Cameron Heyward6’529510Ohio State
Stephon Tuitt6’63037Notre Dame
Tyson Alualu6’330411California
Chris Wormley6’53004Michigan
Isaiahh Loudermilk6’7274RWisconsin
Carlos Davis6’23201Nebraska
Inside Linebacker
5Devin Bush5’112342Michigan
Robert Spillane6’12292Western Michigan
Ulysses Gilbert III6′2302Akron
Buddy Johnson6’2240RTexas A&M
Vince Williams6’12338Florida State
Outside Linebacker
4TJ Watt6’42524Wisconsin
Alex Highsmith6’42421Charlotte
Cassius Marsh6’42547UCLA
Quincey Roche6’3245RMiami (FL)
6Joe Haden5’1119511Florida
Cameron Sutton5’111884Tennessee
James Pierre6’21851Florida Atlantic
Justin Layne6’21922Michigan State
Arthur Maulet5’101903Memphis
Mark Gilbert6′186RDuke
5Minkah Fitzpatrick6’12073Alabama
Terrell Edmunds6’12173Virginia Tech
Antoine Brooks, Jr.5’112101Maryland
Tre Norwood6′192ROklahoma
Miles Kilebrew6’22225Southern Utah
1Chris Boswell6’21856Rice
1Pressley Harvin5’11263RGeorgia Tech
Long Snapper
1Kameron Canaday6’42454Portland State
Pre-Training Camp Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction

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