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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster: Post preseason Week 1 edition

The kickoff to the 2023 NFL preseason is now underway as all teams have now had at least one contest. With two more preseason games to go, it’s time to give our somewhat-too-early predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster to begin the 2023 season. With players having one chance to show what they can do in-stadium, it is still difficult to project who the bottom-of-the-roster players will be. Regardless, SCN editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman will give their input onto their thoughts of who will make the roster come September.

As always, we welcome you to join the conversation in our comment section below this article. Let your voice be heard and join in the black-and-gold conversation!

Offense


Quarterback (3)

Dave: Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph

Changes: None

Analysis: I’ll simply say it again: There is little doubt to both these players and the order this season.

Jeff: Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph

Changes: None

Analysis: I echo what Dave stated above.


Running Back (3)

Dave: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.

Changes: None

Analysis: Anthony McFarland has all but erased the idea of going with only two players, at least in my mind. He has made the separation gap behind him on the depth chart rather than in front of him. Just don’t ask him to do a lot of pass protection.

Jeff: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland Jr.

Changes: None

Analysis: While there are options, Jordan Byrd, who could sneak onto the depth chart, I’ll go with Ant-Mac finally getting a shot to lock up the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, but he’ll have to prove his worth on special teams.


Fullback (0)

Dave: None

Changes: None

Analysis: It looks even more likely now that the Steelers won’t keep someone who is strictly a fullback. They’ll have to show their worth in other places first and fill in at fullback if needed. More on this to come…

Jeff: None

Changes: None

Analysis: As you’ll see when we get to the tight ends, I have a full back on the roster, but not someone who would be considered a natural fullback. And definitely not a lineman who is trying to be a fullback,


Wide Receiver (6)

Dave: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Cody White Gunner Olszewski

Changes: Cody White out, Gunner Olszewski in

Analysis: I’m still going with six players for now, but if Elijah Riley shows he can be a gunner on special teams Miles Boykin could be out of a job. Cody White did himself no favors on Friday night after having a strong camp. Hearing Kenny Pickett praise Gunner O. moves him into the lead to make the squad.

Jeff: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Cody White

Changes: None

Analysis: I could have moved Cody White out of the six, but kept him in for a couple reasons. First, they like him a lot. Second, there is a chance the Steelers want either Gunner O. or Calvin Austin on the roster. I went with CA3 over Gunner in this regard. This could change though, as Dave said above.


Tight End (4)

Dave: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, Connor Heyward, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: I keep saying the same thing… Connor Heyward basically fills out both fullback and tight end position groups so the Steelers can keep four tight ends. But Rodney Williams looked good on Friday, especially on special teams, so he could be pushing Gentry for the final spot.

Jeff: Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward

Changes: None

Analysis: Nothing to see here. Barring an injury I see all four making the roster, and that includes Gentry. Heyward also fills two positions with one roster spot, being able to fill in as a fullback/h-back as needed.


Offensive Line (9)

Dave: Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr, Broderick Jones, Isaac Seumalo, James Daniels, Nate Herbig, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green Spencer Anderson

Changes: Kendrick Green out, Spencer Anderson in

Analysis: As I’ve said previously, I think the final spot on the offensive line right now is between Kendrick Green, Spencer Anderson, and Le’Raven Clark. It was fans first chance to see Green in game action in almost a year and it did not go well. I now move him to third of these three players and I think the fullback experiment is over as it only works if he’s a viable option on the line. I now give the nod to Spencer as he played well in multiple positions on Friday and could even get some action at center going forward.

Jeff: Chuks Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., Broderick Jones, Isaac Seumalo, James Daniels, Nate Herbig, Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole, Kendrick Green, Spencer Anderson

Changes: Kendrick Green Out, Spencer Anderson In

Analysis: To me, Spencer Anderson was a practice squad hopeful; however, his versatility has proven to be extremely beneficial in his hopes of making the roster. That, and the fact Kendrick Green was awful Friday night. If Anderson can prove he can be a viable backup on the interior, I think he has a legitimate shot at making the 53 over someone like Green.

Total Offense: 25

Defense

Defensive Line (7)

Dave: Cameron Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, DeMarvin Leal, Keeanu Benton, Breiden Fehoko, Montravius Adams Armon Watts, Isaiahh Loudermilk

Changes: None

Analysis: I expected to have a change here but forgot my last prediction. I think Loudermilk is locking in his spot as he seems to have made a nice jump in year three based on the small sample size. The starting three on Friday was Watts, Loudermilk, and Adams. I have Adams the odd man out because of the emergence of Keeanu Benton and I think Fehoko brings more to the table. But there are still two more games to help decide.

Jeff: Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, DeMarvin Leal, Keeanu Benton, Breiden Fehoko, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk

Changes: None

Analysis: If there was a player who I could predict potentially missing out on a roster spot, it would be Montravius Adams. Adams has value, but if rookie Benton is capable he could find his spot gone if someone else steps up.


Outside Linebacker (4)

Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Markus Golden, Nick Herbig

Changes: None

Analysis: The only player who blew me away Friday night at outside linebacker was Nick Herbig as Quincy Roche and David Perales didn’t do much for me. The top three guys either didn’t play or saw very few snaps. So the Steelers got an extended look at others but only Herbig seemed roster-worthy.

Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Nick Herbig, Markus Golden

Changes: None

Analysis: Nick Herbig’s performance on Friday night, combined with a tremendous training camp so far, has him as a lock to be more than just a special teams player, but hopefully another rotational piece as a pass rusher.


Inside Linebacker (4)

Dave: Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Kwon Alexander, Mark Robinson, Tanner Muse

Changes: Kwon Alexander in, Tanner Muse out

Analysis: Adding Kwon Alexander could see a fifth inside linebacker kept. For now I am dropping Tanner Muse being strictly special teams, but he could be much like the Marcus Allen role. Right now I see the special teams guys being three dogs, one bone with Boykin, Muse, and Killebrew. This time I have Muse the odd man out.

Jeff: Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Mark Robinson, Tanner Muse, Kwon Alexander

Changes: Kwon Alexander in, Tanner Muse out

Analysis: The Steelers adding Alexander to their roster makes this easy, but don’t think Muse is just going to evaporate from the roster.


Cornerback (5)

Dave: Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace, Joey Porter Jr., James Pierre, Cory Trice, Chandon Sullivan

Changes: Cory Trice out

Analysis: Trice losing his rookie season to injury is unfortunate, but it makes the secondary picture a little more clear. Some of the younger players such as Dawson (pending his injury) and Dunn make an interesting case, but not enough yet to move into position.

Jeff: Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace, Joey Porter Jr., James Pierre, Cory Trice, Chandon Sullivan

Changes: Cory Trice out

Analysis: See what Dave said.


Safety (5)

Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Keanu Neal, Miles Killebrew, Elijah Riley

Changes: Miles Killebrew  in

Analysis: I brought Miles Killebrew back in for special teams, but Tre Norwood and Kenny Robinson are also in the mix here. Robinson may be the option over Killebrew as he brings both safety and special teams capabilities. I have Elijah Riley with a much better chance by bringing three things as he looked good as a special teams gunner, can play safety, and is in the mix for the slot position.

Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee, Keanu Neal, Elijah Riley, Tanner Muse

Changes: Tanner Muse in

Analysis: The Steelers were extremely impressed with Riley throughout the offseason workouts. He’ll have every opportunity to prove himself in training camp, but Riley’s versatility, and ability to play the slot in heavier packages, has him with a spot on my 53-man roster. On top of that, I think the Steelers keep either Killebrew or Muse as a special teams ace. I went with Muse to be different from Dave.

Total Defense: 25

Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Changes: None

Analysis: Nothing on Friday showed me any of these three are going to be replaced. If there was really a competition at any of the positions, I think they would have played both players in the same setting.

Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Changes: None

Analysis: Nothing to note here.

Total Team: 53

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