With just one pre-season game to go, chances are the Steelers’ power that be have already zeroed in on about 50 of the final 53 roster spots.
I’ve seen plenty of websites already predicting their final roster, and honestly I have no idea how that will all unfold… So I’d just like to throw out what I would do if I was in charge.
This will likely be pretty different from what will actually happen, but lets take a look just for entertainment purposes.
Landry Jones is D-O-N-E in Pittsburgh. I’ll admit I’ve hated the pick from day 1, so maybe there’s some self-fulfilling prophecy stuff going on but I can admit he’s improved. I still don’t think he’s ever going to be more than an average 3rd QB. It was telling how quickly the Steelers moved to Vick when Gradkowski went down, because they want no part of Landry seeing the field in games that matter.
Running Backs (4)
Obviously once Bell returns, someone on the roster will get the axe. For now, I’d guess that’s Harris and maybe he goes to the practice squad at that point. I think the Steelers like his potential long-term and don’t want to see him get away. Roosevelt Nix, the converted college pass rusher is a surprise here that I’m guessing doesn’t actually happen. I think the coaches really like incumbent Will Johnson, but we hear every year how involved he will be in the passing game, but he had 6 catches last year. I really like Nix as a special teams player and lead blocker. He also has shown impressive athleticism that’s allowed him to catch a few balls this preseason.
Wide Receivers (6)
The top 4 here are locks. I don’t think many guys have a shot to change their fortunes in the final preseason game, but Tyler Murphy is one of the exceptions. Mike Tomlin said Murphy is likely to get some snaps under center in the preseason finale. If he impresses there I think his development as a receiver and emergency QB status could get him a spot. Goodwin gets a spot until Bryant returns.
Tight Ends (3)
This is pretty cut and dry. Heath’s the man, though he’s slowing down fast. Spaeth is a blocking specialist and brings more value than people realize there. James isn’t likely to play a ton, but could become a red-zone specialist early on.
Offensive Line (9)
For Pouncey to be eligible to return from IR, he has to be on the active roster to start the season, but the team could then designate him for return and sign someone, in my case, Fernando Velasco. I’m not sure what Velasco has left, but I wouldn’t mind seeing if he can step in an thrive as he once did for this team. Mike Adams will hit the PUP list, and I think may eventually get cut but there’s no risk in keeping him around right now. Long-term however, I think Villanueva has taken Adams’ role. If Adams doesn’t return they may choose to cut Hubbard and find a tackle to add.
Defensive Line (6)
This position seems pretty set as well. Cam Thomas and L.T. Walton probably benefit from the lack of competition at the position. I think there is ok depth here though.
This feels like more linebackers than they need, but there’s just too much talent in this group to let someone go. The only guy here that’s a question mark is Terrence Garvin, but Keith Butler has heaped praise on Garvin for years now. This is a really strong group.
I’ve seen a some guessing that Fogg replaces Blake. I’m a huge fan of Antwon Blake, I just can’t cut him. He brings a ton of passion and swagger to this secondary. Fogg and Webb have both had solid camps, but Fogg is the guy I want sticking due to his game changing interception ability.
I’d like to find a way to get Ian Wild on the roster but his tweener status makes it difficult. If the Steelers needed more help at ILB I think he’d have a better chance. Allen makes it as the guy you want playing if there’s an injury, and Golden and Ventrone are exceptional special teams players. Ventrone could be the guy cut when Bell or Bryant returns.
With Garrett Hartley now injured, the Steelers are likely to grab someone that gets cut elsewhere. The Jaguars have had an impressive camp battle between veteran Josh Scobee and Jason Myers. I think the Steelers would be interested in either one, but I think the Jags may decide to go with the younger option. The competition between Wing and Jordan Berry has been extremely close and I think it could go either way easily, so I’m just going with the more familiar option.