By Jeremy Hritz
Preseason is over. Thankfully.
Now, the real work can get started, and the attention can shift to Buffalo. Before the Steelers can do that, they have to whittle their roster down to 53 by 4:00 PM on Tuesday, August 31st and have set the group of men they will go into battle with during the 2021 season.
The contest against the Panthers was a very telling one, and it decided the fate for a lot of players, and following the performance, here is my final iteration of the 2021 53-man Steelers roster, with analysis where appropriate.
*Please note at the bottom of this article is a table including my entire 53-man roster prediction.
Offensive Roster Breakdown
After only keeping 4 running backs on the roster for the past month, I am now keeping 5 after the performance of Bennie Snell, which wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was solid, and the Steelers will need depth with their newfound emphasis on the running game. I still believe Kalen Ballage makes the roster, as he had the best performance all preseason for a running back, and if I was forced to decide between Snell and Ballage, I’d go with Ballage.
At wide receiver, Mathew Sexton dropped his opportunity, literally, against the Panthers, and will not serve as the team’s 5th receiver and return man, keeping the door open for Ray-Ray McCloud, though I would not be surprised at all if the team looks for a 5th WR/return man via waiver wire.
No changes at OL, Tight End, or QB in this final prediction.
Defensive Roster Breakdown
Isaiah Buggs has shown enough to creep back onto the 53, now giving them 7 defensive linemen on the roster, and in order to make room for this move, instead of keeping 5 OLBs, I am only retaining 4, with Jamir Jones pushing out Cassius Marsh and Quincey Roche, and while I don’t want to risk Roche to other teams, he should filter through so the Steelers can put him on the practice squad.
I am sticking with 5 ILBs, though I would not be shocked if Robert Spillane was cut, as his preseason performance was dreadful. However, if that move were made, the depth would be extremely inexperienced, and something I don’t believe the Steelers would prefer heading into the season.
The only other change from my previous 53, is I now have Arthur Maulet making the roster, though I have a strong intuition that team is looking for options for the slot CB, though they may not be successful in doing so.
Special Teams Roster Breakdown
The only change here is that Christian Kuntz is the new long snapper, saving the team ever-so-slightly in the salary cap, but everything else stays the same.
|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|
|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|
|7||Cameron Heyward||6’5||295||10||Ohio State|
|Stephon Tuitt||6’6||303||7||Notre Dame|
|Robert Spillane||6’1||229||3||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|
|James Pierre||6’2||185||1||Florida Atlantic|
|Justin Layne||6’2||192||3||Michigan State|
|Terrell Edmunds||6’1||217||3||Virginia Tech|
|Miles Killebrew||6’2||222||5||Southern Utah|
|1||Pressley Harvin||5’11||263||R||Georgia Tech|