By Jeremy Hritz
The Steelers will cut their roster down to 80 from 85 by 4:00 PM tomorrow, and there shouldn’t be too many surprises. The biggest shift in the roster will occur the following week on August 31st when they have to get down to 53 players, and following the game against the Lions, the unit they will carry into 2021 is coming into greater focus. After the solid performance against the Lions, here is my updated 53-man roster project, with some new addition and changes from the last iteration following the contest vs. the Eagles.
No changes here, but I do want to point out that the backup quarterback position is solidified, and Mason Rudolph is your official #2. I thought Dwayne Haskins would have followed Ben Roethlisberger this weekend only to be proven wrong. While Rudolph has not been electric, he has been steady. Haskins shot will come next year in terms of mobility on the depth chart.
Sticking with Bennie Snell getting cut, and I have Kalen Ballage leaping Anthony McFarland as the backup RB.
I keep going back and forth on this position, and following the HOF Game, I moved Kevin Rader into the #3, but while Zach Gentry has not shown much in the receiving game, he definitely has in his run blocking, which is enough to make him stick. With receiving threats in Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth, Gentry can serve as the “run game bully.”
OK, big change here for me due to Ray-Ray McCloud’s indecisiveness as a punt returner. Dating back to last season after a few nice returns, McCloud became hesitate to field punts and to try and make a play, and while it is a small sample size from Mathew Sexton, despite the pressure and knowing the need for him to make a play or perish, he delivered another outstanding punt return. While he hasn’t show much of anything in the receiving game, a quality return game can flip the field, and there is great value in that. If he balls out Friday against Carolina, he is in.
No change to the offensive line, but I must say I feel better about the tackle position due to Dan Moore’s recent performance.
No change to the defensive line.
No change to inside linebacker, but I must admit, I have not been impressed by the play of Robert Spillane, and were it not for his experience acquired last season, he would be in danger to make the 53. Marcus Allen had a nice game on Saturday, and his versatility makes him valuable to the defense.
OK, I am now keeping 5, but only because I cannot choose between Jamir Jones and Quincey Roche, and I believe both of them have potential worth developing, and I do not want to risk either of them to waiver wires. The signing of Melvin Ingram makes me comfortable in letting Cassius Marsh go and developing the young guys. The question is, what can they bring to special teams?
Justin Layne finds his way back to the 53 after a steady showing against the Lions, and maybe he has turned the corner in his development. I have cut Mark Gilbert, as he has now shown enough and needs more seasoning on the practice squad, in addition to releasing Arthur Maulet. Being that Antoine Brooks functions in the slot corner role, his versatility has me keeping only 4 true corners.
No changes to the safety room.
No changes to special teams.
53-Man Roster: 8/23/21
|3||Ben Roethlisberger||6’5||240||17||Miami (OH)|
|Mason Rudolph||6’5||235||3||Oklahoma State|
|Dwayne Haskins||6’4||230||2||Ohio State|
|Kalen Ballage||6’2||231||3||Arizona State|
|3||Eric Ebron||6’4||253||7||North Carolina|
|Pat Freiermuth||6’5||258||R||Penn State|
|Chase Claypool||6’4||238||1||Notre Dame|
|James Washington||5’11||213||3||Oklahoma State|
|Mathew Sexton||5’11||175||1||Eastern Michigan|
|Kevin Dotson||6’4||321||1||UL Lafayette|
|Chukwuma Okorafor||6’6||320||3||Western Michigan|
|BJ Finney||6’4||318||5||Kansas State|
|Joe Haeg||6’6||298||5||North Dakota State|
|Dan Moore, Jr.||6’5||311||R||Texas A&M|
|Rashaad Coward||6’5||326||4||Old Dominion|
|6||Cameron Heyward||6’5||295||10||Ohio State|
|Stephon Tuitt||6’6||303||7||Notre Dame|
|Robert Spillane||6’1||229||2||Western Michigan|
|Buddy Johnson||6’2||240||R||Texas A&M|
|Marcus Allen||6’2||215||3||Penn State|
|Melvin Ingram||6’2||247||10||South Carolina|
|Jamir Jones||6’3||255||1||Notre Dame|
|Quincey Roche||6’3||245||R||Miami (FL)|
|James Pierre||6’2||185||1||Florida Atlantic|
|Justin Layne||6’2||192||3||Michigan State|
|Terrell Edmunds||6’1||217||3||Virginia Tech|
|Antoine Brooks, Jr.||5’11||210||1||Maryland|
|Miles Killebrew||6’2||222||5||Southern Utah|
|1||Pressley Harvin||5’11||263||R||Georgia Tech|
|1||Kameron Canaday||6’4||245||4||Portland State|