With one preseason game in the book, Alan Saunders and Nick Farabaugh took their best shot at predicting the Steelers’ 53-man roster for the 2022 season.
Quarterback (3): Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
There is a chance that the Steelers could possibly trade Rudolph, but otherwise, these are the three quarterbacks that will be making the team.
Running back (4): Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Warren
Warren has been so good throughout the preseason, and not only as a running back, but as a pass protector and a special teamer, as well. Snell is both an important experienced backup to Harris and a valued special teamer, also. Derek Watt is also a very good special teamer, but doesn’t bring the offensive role the other two do. Snell can play fullback in a pinch if the Steelers really want to use one. These four make the most sense.
Wide receiver (6): Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski, Miles Boykin
Olszewski and Boykin both continue to impress as receivers and as special teamers and right now, it’s hard to imagine leaving either one off the 53-man roster right now.
Tight end (3): Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
Heyward has really impressed as both a receiver and a special teamer, and his roster spot seems fairly secure. Kevin Rader is a bit of a different story, as he’s struggled catching the ball consistently this summer. But he’s a very good special teamer and a better blocker than any of the other options at tight end. If they can find a way to fit him, I think they’d like to have Rader, but he may need to be a practice squad candidate.
Tackle (3): Dan Moore Jr., Chukwuma Okorafor, Joe Haeg
Guard (3): James Daniels, Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green
Center (2): Mason Cole, J.C. Hassenauer
I don’t think there’s any way any of the eight linemen I listed don’t make the squad. The question is whether one more does or not. I initially had John Leglue on this list, but it’s just hard to see a scenario where he would play much, even if he’s on the team. Cole, Daniels, Green and Hassenauer all play center and guard. Haeg plays guard and tackle. Leglue can play all five spots, but would he actually get to play? I’d take the chance on him getting through to the practice squad and being able to provide depth from there.
Defensive linemen (7): Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal
The Steelers kept eight defensive linemen last year, but as long as this group stays healthy, those seven should be more than enough. Henry Mondeaux and Carlos and Khalil Davis can provide depth from the practice squad if they clear waivers.
Outside linebacker (4): T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery
Genard Avery was hurt all through OTAs and minicamp and is now hurt again in preseason, but this is an underwhelming group, and he’s still the best they have right now. Look for external additions.
Inside linebacker (5): Myles Jack, Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson
Robinson made a nice play in the preseason opener and seems like a willing if raw special teamer. Him, Johnson and veteran Marcus Allen seem like three men for two spots. If the team was happy with Allen, I don’t think they’d have drafted inside linebackers on Day Three in two straight drafts.
Cornerback (6): Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Art Maulet, Tre Norwood, James Pierre
These six seem fairly secure, with the only question as to whether the team needs another defensive back, as Justin Layne joined this group a year ago. Tre Norwood’s ability to play slot cornerback and safety make him valuable to save a roster spot.
Safety (4): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazeee, Miles Killebrew
Miles Killebrew has been hurt most of camp and seemed pretty replaceable in limited defensive action last year, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else. Karl Joseph would’ve been in the mix here before his injury.
Specialist (3): Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz
Put them in ink.