Here are the final roster moves made on August 31st with some analysis on each:
QB Jerrod Johnson was cut, but he could end up on the Pittsburgh practice squad if the team is lucky. Johnson projects as a nice future backup prospect and he had a good preseason to back it up (punt intended). Johnson's arm and mobility make him valuable.
P Jeremy Kapinos wasn't a surprising cut after the preseason performances of rookie Drew Butler. Kapinos, by contrast, spent the preseason injured and will now have to get healthy, prove it and wait for an injury to catch on elsewhere (hopefully not back here again).
S Damon Cromartie-Smith is another player that is a veteran in camp, but he's never been able to really crack this roster. He always seems to tantalize briefly before falling off sharply. He didn't have a great game against the Panthers and needed one to make the team.
WR Derrick Williams had a good preseason, particularly in the last two games, but it wasn't enough to make the roster. Williams has the talent and ability to catch on somewhere else and a receiver-needy team like the Dolphins may want to look his way.
LB Sean Spence (IR) was placed on season-ending injured reserve after a scary and stomach-wrenching injury in the preseason finale against Carolina. It’s a sad development for a player who was having a very nice preseason and looked to be someone the Steelers could build with as they move forward.
WR Toney Clemons was another seventh-round choice that didn't surprise anyone by being cut. Clemons was thought of as another budding receiver talent after the draft, but he was never able to show the consistency the NFL demands and eventually he just sort of disappeared completely. He could end up catching on somewhere, but he may have to spend some time on the practice squad first.
OG John Malecki has been here before. He has some value because the team continues to bring him around when the season is beginning. He could latch on elsewhere as a spare guard, but the Steelers had too much depth already for that to matter here.
C/G Ryan Lee had the unfortunate experience to be a player at a position where the team has plenty of hidden depth. Center can be manned by several other veterans. Lee didn't really have a shot at the roster, but he is a solid, raw prospect that could latch onto a practice squad soon.
WR Marquis Maze was a player that I anticipated had a good chance of making this team. With the Mike Wallace hold out, he was given an extra opportunity. But he couldn't make good on the promise of his big-play skills and simply didn't do as much as other players at the position.
WR Tyler Beiler came into camp and seemed impressive early before completely dropping off the table. Except for a couple of random plays, he just didn't show enough to be an NFL receiver. He probably will have a hard time catching on elsewhere too at this point.
RB DuJuan Harris had a wonderful game against the Panthers and basically came out of nowhere, but at this point he is too far down the depth chart at a position that is surprisingly saturated with talent. He will have to look elsewhere, but should find some kind of spot this year.
WR David Gilreath was among the most impressive young receivers in camp. He had a big game against the Colts and then another decent one against Carolina. Surprising to see him go, but the team has decided to keep only four receivers.
OL Trai Essex was a surprise cut. The veteran lineman is versatile enough to play multiple positions and will most assuredly find his way back to an NFL squad very soon. The Steelers kept rookie Kelvin Beachum instead, which is even more shocking.
CB Terrence Frederick was not a surprise cut given his poor performance in the preseason and the improvements shown by other players at the position. Frederick was always a raw prospect, but his inability to hold coverage was a concern and he also made some memorably bad plays against Carolina that sealed his fate.
DE Jake Stoller had a quiet preseason and did not stand out among the defensive ends, where Al Woods was able to carve out a nice set of performances. The Yale product has some upside, but at this point I don't see him landing anywhere. There are too many ahead of him.
DE Ike Igbinosun played a great deal in relief for the Steelers but, like Stoller, didn't have enough of an impression to make a serious run at the roster. The Steelers could choose to bring one of these young DEs back for the practice squad, but who remains to be seen.
LB Brandon Hicks had virtually no shot at the roster and hurt his stock terribly by his performance against the Panthers, where he was unable to set the edge in the run game and hold back the runners. He doesn't seem likely to catch on elsewhere.
DE Corbin Bryant had a decent preseason and also held to fort down against Carolina, but he was just short of a roster spot here. Bryant could be the guy the Steelers put on the practice team, but at this point it's too early to be sure. I do like his upside.
OT Chris Scott has been with the team for awhile, but he's never been able to get on the field consistently. He has some injury history woes too. He could catch on as a backup somewhere, but there are no sure things there.
LB Marshall McFadden had a nice night against Carolina, but the linebacker position, even with the injury to Sean Spence, was saturated to the point that he simply did not crack the roster. I think he’s an interesting player to keep an eye on, however, as other teams begin to make pickups.
CB Josh Victorian was a late addition in camp and had an impressive preseason that didn't draw a lot of interest. He may have trouble getting a job with another team because of that quiet work, but he has the talent to be a good special teams player and backup corner.