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Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster: Post preseason Week 2 edition

The kickoff to the 2023 NFL preseason is now underway and Week 2 is almost completely done across the league. With only one more preseason game to go, it’s time to give our almost-there predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster to begin the 2023 season. With players having two games under their belt to show what they can do in-stadium, it’s getting more clear to try 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: As long as it’s three, I think it’s these three. I am intrigued by Xazavian Valladay, but that is more likely a practice squad option.

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 taking 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’s a position that has to bring value in other places than just fullback, so anyone who fills this role has to make the team somewhere else.

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, no, Kendrick Green isn’t a fullback.


Wide Receiver (6)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: I was very uncertain about this group early on, but I think this is the group unless Cody White can knock off Gunner O.

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, the Steelers like him a lot. Second, the play of Calvin Austin III in the preseason has made Gunner expendable. Therefore, I feel like this battle is thinning itself out, but Hakeem Butler is the only player would could potentially throw a wrench into things, unless they decide to just keep five wide receivers…


Tight End (Dave 3, Jeff 4)

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

Changes: Gentry out

Analysis: There are too many players I want to keep on defense who also contribute on special teams. I think the Steelers could go with three tight ends and be fine if they keep Rodney Williams on the practice squad for emergencies. But if they still really want Gentry, I would consider cutting the receivers to five.

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, Spencer Anderson

Changes: None

Analysis: Green looked even worse this week, and Anderson did fine playing four different positions, including five snaps at center. This is the way I hope the Steelers go with the group or they add another option at backup center.

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

Changes: None

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 the past two weeks. 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: Dave 24, Jeff 25

Defense

Defensive Line (7)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: I haven’t been blown away by Breiden Fehoko like I hoped I would be, but I wasn’t sure if I shoudl switch him and Adams. I think they are the two dogs with one bone. This last game could be big for the bottom of this group.

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

Changes: Montravius Adams out, Armon Watts in

Analysis: As always, barring injury the Steelers will likely go with only two nose tackles. Fehoko has been noticeable at camp, so I’ll go with him over Adams. To add another body along the defensive front, I’ll take Watts to fill out the depth at the position.


Outside Linebacker (4)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: The depth is so good with the next two players there isn’t really a need for a fifth person except on the practice squad.

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

Changes: None

Analysis: Nick Herbig’s performance in the first two preseason games, 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 (Dave 5, Jeff 4)

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

Changes: Tanner Muse in

Analysis: I said Tanner Muse needed to show upon defense in Week 2 to justify his special teams roster spot. That’s exactly what he did. For this reason, I have the Steelers going with 9 total linebackers.

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

Changes: None

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, Chandon Sullivan

Changes: None

Analysis: I was tempted to go with only four cornerbacks since Riley can play the slot from the safety position and have more options on the practice squad, but it didn’t feel right. The player cut would have been Sullivan but he made a nice play for that interception on Saturday.

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

Changes: None

Analysis: I think this is one of those positions where the Steelers could add some depth at some point following rosters being trimmed to 53 players. In the meantime, I think this is your depth chart heading into Week 3 of the preseason.


Safety (5)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: Although I feel bad that Tre Norwood hasn’t been in the discussion, he’s been out with injury and other plays are passing him by. As for Killebrew, he should be the special teams captain again this year unless they go with Boz.

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

Changes: Tanner Muse out, Miles Killebrew in

Analysis: The Steelers were extremely impressed with Riley throughout offseason workouts and training camp. He’s proven himself in training camp and in the preseason, 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. Killebrew made a special teams play Saturday night, so I have him over Muse this week.

Total Defense: Dave 26, Jeff 25

Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Changes: None

Analysis: Boswell kicked fine, and Harvin probably locked up his job on Saturday.

Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Changes: None

Analysis: Nothing to note here.

Total Team: 53

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