The Steelers added depth and skill to positions of need and to already skilled groups. The Steelers are 2 wins away from their 7th trophy, but each super bowl teams begin with cuts and these are my first predictions for those final cuts.
Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Dobbs, Landry Jones
The QB position is locked in after cutting Zach Mettenberger. The only thing to be seen is the battle for the 2nd string QB. With how Ben Roethlisberger gets hurt every year, this competition will be extremely important. Expect Josh Dobbs to be the favorite going in even though the Steelers usually don’t like rookies starting. But with Landry Jones not developing at all, then Dobbs could bring some freshness behind Ben.
Running Back (3)
Le’Veon Bell, Knile Davis, James Conner
Le’Veon Bell will get most of the touches as expected and will be a great player as per usual. With his own injury issues in the past, the Steelers have some good depth here. James Conner was an amazing pick and will be a great role player on this team. He will add extra power to that room. Knile Davis adds good special teams competition and speed to the backfield. All in all, this backfield complements each other nicely.
Full Back/Tight End (5)
David Johnson, Roosevelt Nix, Ladarius Green, Jesse James, Xavier Grimble
Full backs and tight ends are extremely important to this team. Both blocking and downfield targets create a huge advantage to the offense. Guys like Roosevelt Nix and David Johnson add great blocking dimensions and are unsung heroes. Jesse James has started to become a fringe starter and is continuously improving both as a blocker and in his catching ability. As long as Ladarius Green is healthy, then he will add a huge target down the middle of the field. Grimble showed flashes of a good role player on this team. If he keeps improving from last year, then he will help this team more and more.
Wide Receiver (6)
Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Darrius Heyward-Bey
Antonio Brown speaks for himself, but if Martavis Bryant could stay clean and play the whole season, then he will make a huge impact. He is the perfect compliment to AB and creates the offense even more dynamic. Darrius Heyward-Bey will make the team as a special teams gunner. He can continue his role as a lesser role player. JuJu Smith-Schuster will fight for playing time with Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers. I believe he will be put in during red zone scenarios more often than anything else. Rogers needs to continue off of his performance last year. He will probably end up third on the depth chart. i believe Coates will lose out during training camp and will fall behind JuJu on the depth chart this year.
Offensive Line (8)
Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, B.J. Finney, Chris Hubbard, Gerald Hawkins
The starting O-line will remain intact and keep improving on their past seasons together. They’re one of the best o-lines in the league and will improve on that. B.J. Finney and Chris Hubbard played well when they needed to fill in and play so if their numbers are called this year, expect good backup plays. Gerald Hawkins was playing extremely well in camp last year until he got injured. Hawkins will continue to improve and has starter potential.
Defensive Line (6)
Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers, L.T. Walton, Tyson Alualu
Cam Heyward is one of the best 3-4 ends in football and will be on a mission after being injured for most of the season last year. Stephon Tuitt raised his level of play last year after Cam went down due to injury. I expect him to pick up where he left off. Javon Hargrave played extremely well as a rookie by setting up the run defense and applying pressure during pass scenarios. Daniel McCullers adds good depth to the nose tackle position because he is a good run stopper. L.T. Walton played well when he helped fill in for Heyward last year and I think is a easy make for this final roster. Tyson Alualu was a great small move in free agency. He adds another dimension of depth to the D-line and allows the ability to give Tuitt and Cam breaks.
Outside Linebacker (6)
Bud Dupree, James Harrison, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, L.J. Fort, Arthur Moats
I personally liked how Bud Dupree played after coming back from injury. I expect big things from Bud this year. Deebo is a experienced guy and a ageless wonder. He speaks for himself. T.J. Watt is a inexperienced guy but I expect him to come up huge in the latter stages of the season compared to the beginning of it. Anthony Chickillo is usually good at the start of the season and can help with snaps before Watt is ready. He is a good special teams player. L.J. Fort plays good during training camp and during the preseason, but he will make this team off his special teams ability alone. Arthur Moats still adds experience and some pass rush ability. I know he will have to fight for his roster spot, but I do believe he will make it.
Inside Linebacker (4)
Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Steven Johnson
Ryan Shazier is turning into a top ILB in this league, especially after his first pro bowl season this past year. Vince Williams is a tough and physical player which will define this defense. Tyler Matakevich is going to make a big jump this year and I believe will create some snaps on defense this year. Primarily though, he will make the team through special teams. Steven Johnson will also make the team off of special teams alone. I expect him to be the 4th ILB on the depth chart.
Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell, William Gay, Cameron Sutton, Senquez Golson
Artie Burns will add onto his successful season last year and learn from his mistakes. Ross Cockrell will continue to be the starter opposite of Burns until someone beats him out for that job. William Gay is the leader of this group, but it’s a real possibility that Sutton challenges for his job from day one. Senquez Golson makes the team after finally staying healthy and playing the way they expected him to when he was drafted.
Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield
Mike Mitchell is still the leader in this group. He plays physical and is a big part of this defense. Sean Davis was their best player in the second half of the season for the secondary. He played very well and he also learned a lot. Robert Golden will still be a role-player on this team, but him and Jordan Dangerfield will be mostly special team guys.
Chris Boswell, Greg Warren, Jordan Berry
Chris Boswell is still a great kicker after his sudden emergence in the league. Jordan Berry is still one of the best punters we’ve had in years. Greg Warren beats out the rookie we drafted for this job.