Steelers 53-man roster prediction ahead of their first preseason game

  • A few players swaps in the secondary
  • Another linebacker takes up a roster spot

Steelers, Kenny Robinson
Steelers, Kenny Robinson / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fans got their first dose of preseason football when the Jets and Browns kicked things off in the Hall of Fame Game. Now it really feels like the season is upon us as the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting set to play the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

Leading up to this point, I have been updating my 53-man roster predictions. My most recent came just ahead of Steelers training camp. The first few weeks of practices have taught us plenty, and my updated 53-man roster prediction has undergone several changes since then.

In a matter of weeks, Pittsburgh will be asked to cut their roster from 90 players down to 53. We will get a much better feel for where players stand by the end of the preseason, but for now, here is my updated Steelers 53-man roster prediction ahead of Pittsburgh's first preseason game against the Buccaneers.

Steelers 53-man roster prediction before preseason

Quarterback (3):

  • Kenny Pickett
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Mason Rudolph

Running back (3):

  • Najee Harris
  • Jaylen Warren
  • Anthony McFarland

Wide receiver (6):

  • Diontae Johnson
  • George Pickens
  • Allen Robinson II
  • Calvin Austin III
  • Myles Boykin
  • Gunnar Olszewski

Tight end (4):

  • Pat Freiermuth
  • Darnell Washington
  • Connor Heyward (FB/HB)
  • Zach Gentry

Offensive tackle (3):

  • Broderick Jones
  • Chukwuma Okorafor
  • Dan Moore Jr.

Interior offensive line (6):

  • Isaac Seumalo
  • James Daniels
  • Mason Cole (C)
  • Nate Herbig
  • Kevin Dotson
  • Kendrick Green

Interior defensive line (6):

  • Cameron Heyward
  • Larry Ogunjobi
  • Keeanu Benton
  • DeMarvin Leal
  • Armon Watts
  • Breiden Fehoko

Edge defender (4):

  • T.J. Watt
  • Alex Highsmith
  • Markus Golden
  • Nick Herbig

Linebacker (5):

  • Cole Holcomb
  • Elandon Roberts
  • Kwon Alexander
  • Mark Robinson
  • Tanner Muse

Cornerback (5):

  • Patrick Peterson
  • Joey Porter Jr.
  • Levi Wallace
  • James Pierre
  • Elijah Riley

Safety (5):

  • Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • Damontae Kazee
  • Keanu Neal
  • Kenny Robinson
  • Miles Killebrew

Specialists (3):

  • Chris Boswell (K)
  • Presley Harvin III (P)
  • Christian Kuntz (LS)

As it typically is, 90 percent of the roster is pretty easy to figure out. Based on the Steelers depth chart, the pecking order during drills and practices, and how much money certain players are making, we can pretty easily guess the first 48 or 49 players with outstanding accuracy. However, it's the few players at the bottom of the roster that are always difficult to figure out.

While we can look at past trends to guide us, the Steelers could always decide to allocate resources at different positions. For example, nobody can say for sure if Pittsburgh intends to roll with 5 or 6 receivers on their 53-man roster this year, as we have seen them go either way in the past. For this prediction, I have Gunner Olszewski staying on as the sixth man. He has had a very good camp so far.

For my latest roster prediction, I did add another off-ball linebacker making the group, thanks largely to the addition of Kwon Alexander. In addition to Kwon, I have this group consisting of Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Mark Robinson, and Tanner Muse. Muse is far from guaranteed to secure the final spot, but I think they keep five and he offers some versatility thanks to his special teams ability and ability to cover on third downs.

A few big changes to Steelers roster in the secondary

In my latest Steelers 53-man roster prediction, I also removed one cornerback from the group, now that Cory Trice Jr. is on IR for the season and will not count against a roster spot. I also swapped out Duke Dawson for Elijah Riley. Dawson was earning first-team reps at slot cornerback early in practice, but Riley seems to have the hot hand at the position right now, and he's having a strong camp.

Additionally, I made one switch at the safety position. I had Riley making the roster as a safety previously, but it looks like his best route is as a slot cornerback. After removing Trice and Dawson, I added Kenny Robinson as the fifth safety. Robinson has been one of the training camp darlings this year as he has shown off impressive coverage skills and ball-hawking ability.

A lot can change between now and the conclusion of the final Steelers preseason game. Keep an eye on these roster bubble players against the Buccaneers. Their performances this preseason could very well dictate who stays and who goes.