Steelers 53-man roster prediction before preseason finale vs Lions

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)
Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images) /

The Steelers are getting ready to take on the Detroit Lions and this final 53-man roster is starting to take shape. 

The Steelers will take the field for their final preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium. The slate of games thus far has been successful in the sense of winning and losing games. That is not the end-all-be-all during these contests and they have now seen a lot from these players on the 80-man roster.

Tuesday will be the day where the final cutdowns need to be finalized by each team across the NFL. Pittsburgh will have some interesting decisions to make with how they wrap up the rest of their roster when they need to release 27 players between the end of the game and early in the week. This will be the last chance for some players to make a good impression on coaches that will hope to make it to the roster.

Steelers 53-man roster prediction:

Quarterback (3): Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph

Mitch Trubisky is the starter at quarterback, at least for the beginning of the 2022 campaign. Kenny Pickett has shown a lot of good things in the preseason and could take over at some point, especially if Trubisky cannot get this team going around him. Those will be the top two guys at the position, but the player behind them is where things could get interesting.

Mason Rudolph is a solid third-string guy in the NFL, not many have a better option at that point on their roster. The outlier with him would be a trade scenario coming to fruition and the club feeling comfortable with locating a new third quarterback. Rudolph still makes this roster as he has a good amount of starting experience, and this offensive line could lead to three players needing to start at the position.

Running back/full back (4): Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Benny Snell Jr., Derek Watt

Najee Harris is going to get almost all the snaps at running back and will hopefully be able to stay healthy. Jaylen Warren has been the story of camp besides George Pickens stealing a lot of his thunder. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State seems like a spot on the roster is locked in.

Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland will still battle it out for the final running back spot, but it seems like Snell’s to lose. That is somewhat surprising as Snell did miss a lot of time during the preseason, but he provides valuable snaps on special teams. Derek Watt makes the team as the lone fullback, but he is a proven special teamer.

Receiver (6): Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Chase Claypool, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski

Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Chase Claypool will be the starting three on the offense. That is a good trio with Claypool bringing a new size dynamic into the slot role. This position was able to be replenished this past offseason and it remains one of the deepest positional groups on the entire roster.

The Steelers keep six with Calvin Austin III being the backup in the slot and Miles Boykin being the backup outside, plus some special teams ability. Gunner Olszewski had a great preseason and has shown more at the receiver position than many thought he would.

Tight end (3): Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward

Pat Freiermuth is primed to have a monster season with Pittsburgh and should create even more mismatches on offense. Zach Gentry returns as the best blocking tight end that the club has had in a while. He will hopefully be able to come into games and lessen the weakest links on the offensive line.

Getting the tight ends involved in the blocking schemes might be the best course of action to right the ship. Connor Heyward beats out Kevin Rader for the last tight end opening on the roster. He has been able to show some good things in the preseason and deserves a roster spot.

Offensive line (9): Dan Moore Jr., Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, James Daniels, Chuks Okorafor, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, J.C. Hassenauer, John Leglue/free agent

The starting five seems like it is finally getting settled after Kendrick Green had a slim shot to become the starting left guard. The top group has not been very promising, but they will hopefully grow and get better as the season progresses. The depth behind them is divided into uneven parts, regarding quality.

Green, J.C. Hassenauer, and John Leglue are decent depth pieces for the interior group. The tackle position is very light with only Joe Haeg on the roster. The Steelers could go out and look for a free agent backup-type tackle after cut-down day and that could make Leglue expendable.

Defensive line (6): Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal

Pittsburgh decides to keep their normal quota of defensive linemen in this prediction article. Montravius Adams could make the cut, but he has missed a lot of time during the preseason process. That could hurt his chances to make this club.

Another thing that might peak the Steelers interest to keep seven, is the uncertainty at the position from their struggles against the run last year. They keep six here and they are all straightforward. The defensive line has been decided on for a while, it will just come down to if the team feels like they need to keep an extra player or not.

Outside linebacker (4): T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Free agent, Derrek Tuszka

Outside linebacker is a spot that seems unfinished in its current state. Genard Avery was a surprising release by the club for a position that desperately needs experience and quality players. They need to bring an outside option onto the team soon.

The two starters are the obvious parts of this team and Derrek Tuszka seems like he will probably make the roster, even though the best thing for him might be the practice squad. There are still some quality free agents that the black and gold could bring in and they might have to.

Inside linebacker (5): Myles Jack, Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Mark Robinson, Buddy Johnson

Myles Jack is the most talented middle linebacker that the Steelers have now. The starter next to him seems like it will be Devin Bush with Robert Spillane earning a certain role on the defense as well. The two or three behind them could be where things might get interesting.

Mark Robinson has been making a name for himself throughout the preseason and seems like he will be making the team. He could turn into a Vince Williams type if he can develop properly. Buddy Johnson did not take that step you would hope for in a second-year guy, but he is athletic and provides good depth for the club.

Cornerback (5): Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Arthur Maulet, James Pierre

Starting cornerbacks for this defense have already been determined a while ago. Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace will be the two starters on the outside with Cam Sutton returning to defend the inside. Getting these last two spots decided was difficult, but these two at the bottom make sense.

Arthur Maulet provides depth at the slot corner role behind Sutton. That is valuable to this team, and they keep James Pierre as the backup on the outside after a nice showing in the preseason. They keep the depth at a couple of positions as they also need these two to produce on special teams as well.

Safety (5): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew

Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds are the returning starters at their safety positions. The depth behind them is a strength of this club and something they have not seen in a while. Each of them, besides Miles Killebrew, will see time on defense this season.

Damontae Kazee was a sneaky good signing that will provide the defense flexibility if they choose to use Edmunds in a different role. Tre Norwood has been outstanding during the preseason and will have another solid year, plus he can play all over the secondary. Killebrew is solid at special teams and will make the club based on that.

Specialists (3): Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Specialists are very important to a team in the NFL as they help convert points and help battle in the field position department. Chris Boswell still seems to be knocking off some in-game rust off based on his field goal miss against the Jaguars. He will be fine, do not freak out just yet.

Pressley Harvin III won his job back to be the Steelers punter, despite there not being a bunch of competition in camp. He has been kicking the ball well according to most reports and will hopefully be able to translate that onto gamedays. Christian Kuntz is a local guy that has been a solid long snapper for the club and keeps the machine chugging along.

Practice squad (16): Tyler Vaughns (Receiver), Chris Oladokun/free agent (Quarterback), Anthony McFarland (Running back), Henry Mondeaux (Defensive lineman), Montravius Adams (Defensive lineman), Kevin Rader (Tight end), Delontae Scott (Outside linebacker), Elijah Riley (Safety), Trent Scott (Tackle), Free agent (Running back), Justin Layne (Cornerback), Steven Sims (Receiver), Hamilcar Rashed (Outside linebacker), Carlins Platel (Cornerback), Free agent (Center/guard), Marcus Allen (Inside linebacker)

Many of the players that missed out on roster spots will revert to the Steelers practice squad. None of these names are shocking for the most part as some might be eyebrow-raising. The team will try their best to make a balanced group that they feel comfortable calling up to the roster if injuries occur.

Montravius Adams, Marcus Allen, and some potential free agent additions would be the biggest news for this group. Adams and Allen bring experience to the unit and even have some previous roles with the team that could get another NFL club interested in signing them off the squad. The rest have done well in the preseason, but they just did not do enough to make the final roster.

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The Steelers have some big decisions to make for their initial iteration of the 53-man roster. There are going to be a couple of big decisions for this club to make.