Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post-Eagles Game

By Jeremy Hritz

Only two more games to go before preseason is complete, and the Steelers have their 2021 roster set (most of it) for the upcoming season. By tomorrow, August 17th, the Steelers must trim their roster from 90 to 85, and should not have any problem doing so; however, in order to get to their final 53, they will have some difficult decisions to make, and here is my third take on what this will look like following the Eagles game from last Thursday (see the full roster below my analysis).


Tight End

There are multiple changes from iteration #2 to the version of the 53 you are currently reading, starting with the tight end position. The top 2 spots are locked with Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth, but the battle for the third spot is heating up between Kevin Rader and Zach Gentry, with Rader currently having the advantage. Rader has been more sure-handed in the two preseason contests in comparison to Gentry, in addition to being an impressive blocker, while Gentry has not capitalized on his opportunities in the passing game. While Gentry has shown improvement in his run blocking, he may need to do more in order to stick. This competition is ongoing, and the next two weeks will be critical in determining who is the #3TE. With the rededication to the running game, could they keep 4? And, is the 3rd TE even on the roster?

Offensive Line

In order to keep an additional offensive lineman, I cut Bennie Snell from the roster due to the performance of Kalen Ballage and Snell’s injury. With the offensive line in flux and the starting 5 still be tinkered and toyed with, the Steelers will need options, in addition to available depth in the event of injury. Encouragingly, many of the Steelers backup linemen are getting high-quality reps as a result of the projected starters missing time for a variety of reasons, and this is what is keeping players like Rashaad Coward and Joe Haeg on the roster. One item to note here is whether or not cutting Haeg will factor into the Steelers favor in terms of compensatory draft picks, and if they can gain. a late round pick in the 2022 draft, especially since they just shipped out another late pick for Joe Schobert, there is the potential they do so in favor of grabbing someone off of the waiver wire. I am still not settled on the offensive line and predict there will be a name on this list that is currently on another team when things are all said and done.

Inside Linebacker

With the signing of Schobert, Ulysses Gilbert III’s time is complete in Pittsburgh, thought I still have Marcus Allen making it here due to his versatility which the team covets.

Outside Linebacker

Cassius Marsh is out on this version of my 53, and I have Quincey Roche making the 4th OLB spot. Roche has played well in the preseason, and with Melvin Ingram as the #3, this gives the team a bit more flexibility here at the 4th spot with more upside than Marsh. The bigger question is has Jamir Jones done enough for a legitimate shot at the 53, or is he destined for the practice squad?


Next to the offensive line, cornerback is the position I am most concerned about, and I can also envision a roster move/trade here as well. Justin Layne is cut due to his underperformance, and I still have Mark Gilbert as the surprise winner here due to his speed and play this preseason. The team needs a confidence-engendering corner with some experience to fill the void from what was expected from Layne, and this should happen in the next few weeks. A corresponding roster move could spell the end for Allen at ILB.

Look for my next 53-man prediction following the Lions game.

53-Man Roster, 8/16/21

PositionPlayerHeightWeightYear ExperienceCollege
3Ben Roethlisberger6’524017Miami (OH)
Mason Rudolph6’52353Oklahoma State
Dwayne Haskins6’42302Ohio State
Running Back
4Najee Harris6’1232RAlabama
Anthony McFarland5’81931Maryland
Kalen Ballage6’22313Arizona State
Derek Watt6’22345Wisconsin
Tight End
3Eric Ebron6’42537North Carolina
Pat Freiermuth6’5258RPenn State
Kevin Rader6’42501Youngstown State
Wide Receiver
5Juju Smith-Schuster6’12154USC
Chase Claypool6’42381Notre Dame
Dionate Johnson5’101832Toledo
James Washington5’112133Oklahoma State
RayRay McCloud5’91903Clemson
Offensive Line
9Kendrick 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
Rashaad Coward6’53264Old Dominion
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
Joe Schobert6’12456Wisconsin
Robert Spillane6’12292Western Michigan
Buddy Johnson6’2240RTexas A&M
Marcus Allen6’22153Penn State
Outside Linebacker
4TJ Watt6’42524Wisconsin
Alex Highsmith6’42421Charlotte
Melvin Ingram6’224710South Carolina
Quincey Roche6’3245RMiami (FL)
5Joe Haden5’1119511Florida
Cameron Sutton5’111884Tennessee
James Pierre6’21851Florida Atlantic
Arthur Maulet5’101903Memphis
Mark Gilbert6′186RDuke
5Minkah Fitzpatrick6’12073Alabama
Terrell Edmunds6’12173Virginia Tech
Antoine Brooks, Jr.5’112101Maryland
Tre Norwood6′192ROklahoma
Miles Killebrew6’22225Southern Utah
1Chris Boswell6’21856Rice
1Pressley Harvin5’11263RGeorgia Tech
Long Snapper
1Kameron Canaday6’42454Portland State

2 thoughts on “Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction: Post-Eagles Game

    1. Thanks for your question, Jim! Mathew Sexton is an intriguing guy, as his speed is elite, and that is something you cannot find in any of the other receivers on the team. The biggest question regarding Sexton is whether or not he can contribute in the passing game in addition to his abilities in the return game to give him double the value in terms of roster versatility. I was more encouraged of his chances following the HOF game but not as much after the contest with the Eagles. He needs to show more to have an opportunity at the 53, but as we stand right now, he will be headed for the practice squad. Thanks again for your question!

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