Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster: The final consensus

The 2023 NFL preseason has wrapped up and teams across the league are going through the process of cutting down to 53 players ahead of Tuesday’s 4 PM EST deadline. After several attempts throughout the offseason to predict the Steelers initial 53-man roster, SCN editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman combined their efforts came to a consensus roster on the most recent episode of the Let’s Ride podcast. Additionally, we have added some names to potentially land on the practice squad who were with the Steelers this preseason.

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!

Note: The podcast was recorded before the Kevin Dotson trade, but the slight adjustments will be noted.

Offense


Quarterback (3)

Kenny Pickett
Mitch Trubisky
Mason Rudolph

There were no questions about this position group. And for those who think the Steelers would keep a fourth on the practice squad, there’s little benefit to this as the player would not see any action in practice. And for those on the other end who think the Steelers could get by with just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, the new third quarterback rule keeps that for being a reasonable possibility. So these are the three.

Practice squad considerations: None


Running Back (3)

Najee Harris
Jaylen Warren
Anthony McFarland Jr.

The only question here had to do with the third running back, and it wasn’t which player it would be. The other option the Steelers have is to skip the position on the 53-man roster and look to move Anthony McFarland to the practice squad and elevate him when necessary. While acknowledging this is a possibility, we still weren’t prepared to make that move as it would be surprising if the Steelers did so.

Practice squad considerations: Xazavain Valladay, Darius Hagans


Fullback (0)

The Steelers are simply not going to keep a player who is solely dedicated to this position.

Practice squad considerations: None


Wide Receiver (6)

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

This is a position group where a player such as Miles Boykin could be released in order to try to get another player onto the Reserve/Injured List (IR) to be eligible to return. Initially, we had Boykin being cut and coming back when the Steelers either traded Kevin Dotson or placed him on IR. Since Dotson has been traded, we have Boykin back on the roster but wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers went this route with another player such as Zach Gentry. And as for Gunner Olszewski, he’s been talked up too much recently to think he’s going to be let go.

Practice squad considerations: Dez Fitzpatrick


Tight End (3)

Pat Freiermuth
Darnell Washington
Connor Heyward

We made the tough decision of releasing Zach Gentry based on the fact that everything he does someone else on this list does better. But if Steelers wants to go with multiple tight end sets and keep Gentry, it wouldn’t be shocking. Additionally, Gentry could be kept and then placed on IR since he was seen in a walking boot on Saturday. Additionally, Gentry is more expendable if the Steelers can manage to get Rodney Williams on the practice squad.

Practice squad considerations: Rodney Williams


Offensive Line (9)

Chukwuma Okorafor
Dan Moore Jr.
Broderick Jones
Isaac Seumalo
James Daniels
Nate Herbig
Mason Cole
Spencer Anderson
Kendrick Green

We were prepared to keep 10 offensive linemen temporarily and believe the Steelers would either trade Kevin Dodson or place him on IR. Dotson is gone so we believe this gives Kendrick Green a spot. The only thing that could happen instead is keeping Dylan Cook. But Spencer Anderson is a great player to keep on the 53 as he gives back up abilities across all five positions.

Practice squad considerations: Dylan Cook, Ryan McCollum

Total Offense: 24

Defense

Defensive Line (7)

Cameron Heyward
Larry Ogunjobi
DeMarvin Leal
Keeanu Benton
Armon Watts
Isaiahh Loudermilk
Montravius Adams

This is the hardest position group to predict. Ultimately we narrowed it down to Breiden Fehoko and Montravius Adams. As much as we heard great things about Fehoko in training camp, it didn’t translate onto the field in the preseason in a way that stood out. For this reason we think he is a good candidate for the practice squad.

Practice squad considerations: Breiden Fehoko, Jonathan Marshall


Outside Linebacker (4)

T.J. Watt
Alex Highsmith
Markus Golden
Nick Herbig

This was an easy decision as we had both of the same four players for a while. The emergence of Nick Herbig as well as the experience of Markus Golden makes it unnecessary for the Steelers to keep another player at the position. It wouldn’t be shocking if they did, but I think it’s more likely that the Steelers keep two edge rushers on the practice squad.

Practice squad considerations: Quincy Roche, David Perales, Toby Ndukwe (2 of the 3)


Inside Linebacker (5)

Cole Holcomb
Elandon Roberts
Kwon Alexander
Mark Robinson
Tanner Muse

Over the final two preseason games, Tanner Muse showed he could be quality depth at inside linebacker while giving top-notch special teams play. This keeps the Steelers with nine total linebackers and players to help out on special teams. Nick Kwiatkoski was in the mix as well, but his injury slowed down his possibilities but he could be kept on the practice squad.

Practice squad considerations: Nick Kwiatkoski


Cornerback (5)

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

Changes: None

The top three names on this list are a lock, and Chandon Sullivan has shown his value in the slot. With Cory Trice out for the season, James Pierre falls into the fourth cornerback spot by default to be a special teams players more than anything else. But don’t be shocked if the Steelers make a move to add depth at the disposition and Pierre could land on the practice squad if not with another team.

Practice squad considerations: Luq Barcoo, Chris Wilcox


Safety (5)

Minkah Fitzpatrick
Damontae Kazee
Keanu Neal
Miles Killebrew
Elijah Riley

Elijah Riley is a key player in this position group. Not only does he give an option in the slot, he gives the needed depth at safety so Miles Killebrew could be kept primarily for special teams. Also, based on not doing much in the preseason, Tre Norwood becomes a player who can hopefully get to the practice squad and be used as a game day elevation if needed.

Practice squad considerations: Tre Norwood, Trenton Thompson

Total Defense: 26

Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Chris Boswell
Pressley Harvin III
Christian Kuntz

The only possibility left here is at punter and we believe the Steelers are merely holding on to Braden Mann to see if they could trade him before releasing him. Is it impossible for the trade to be for Harvin instead? Not necessarily, but it would be very surprising.

Practice squad considerations: None

Total Team: 53

Check out the Let’s Ride podcast below:

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