Steelers 53-man roster prediction before 2021 training camp

Cameron Sutton #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers . (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Cameron Sutton #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers . (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22). Mandatory Credit: Karl Roster/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

Steelers Running Backs (4)

Najee Harris, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage, Derek Watt

The more I have looked over this positional group in the offseason, the more convinced I feel like this is what the depth chart will look like ultimately. The top of the group is obvious, as Najee Harris will get to be the lead back for the Steelers. Behind him, Anthony McFarland is the only non-power-back type of player currently on the roster. While the team could certainly do better than him, it would require them bringing in a free agent. Until that happens, his roster spot seems pretty safe.

Derek Watt is the only choice at full-back, thus making his roster spot safe. This leaves two questions remaining. The first is how many backs will the Steelers ultimately keep on the roster. While they have kept four backs the past few seasons, most of that was due to James Conner’s health concerns. Harris figures to receive the vast majority of snaps and carries out of the backfield, which makes it more likely that the team only carries three traditional running backs in 2021.

Assuming that’s the case, the last roster spot will come down to Benny Snell versus Kalen Ballage. While Snell has more Steelers experience, Ballage has proven to be a better short-yardage option when called upon. This is a toss-up right now, but I would give the slight edge to Ballage. That said, if the Steelers are forced to rely on either of those backs heavily, something has gone horribly wrong.