Pittsburgh Steelers: Projecting the 53-Man Roster
The 2011 NFL Season seems no different for Pittsburgh Steelers fans than any other season. The Steelers stayed the course, kept most of their own players during free agency, drafted the "Best Available Player", and look to have geared up for another run at Lombardi #7.
Because the Steelers keep mainly the same team as they do every year, it makes it easier for people like me, to project who the Steelers are going to keep, and who they are going to let walk away.
Since everyone does one of these, I thought I would as well.
Starter - Ben Roethlisberger
Back Up - Byron Leftwich
Third String- Dennis Dixon
There is no question that Ben Roethlisberger is the main man in Pittsburgh. As the man with the largest contract in the history of the Steelers, Roethlisberger is set to erase all doubters, and prove he is not only elite, but one of the best in the NFL.
Byron Leftwich will be used as the main back up, if Roethlisberger is out for any amount of time with injury.
Dennis Dixon has signed his tender offer, and I believe, as much as this goes against Bruce Arians, Dixon may actually get some playing time in certain situations.
With the exception of Charlie Batch, there is no one else that even stands a chance at making the roster, and the only chance Batch has is any of the other three are injured.
Starter - Rashard Mendenhall
Back Up - Isaac Redman
3rd Down Back - Mewelde Moore
Back Up - Jonathan Dwyer
Rashard Mendenhall has improved in every season of his NFL career. If he continues this pace, he will become one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL.
Isaac Redman proved in 2010 that he was able to be the short-yardage back for the Steelers, and will continue in 2011.
Mewelde Moore was brought back because there are no other players ready to step into this role. Moore's strongest suite is his ability to catch the ball out of the back field, and pick up blitzes.
I expect Jonathan Dwyer to earn some playing time, and maybe even challenge either Redman or Moore for playing time.
WR 1 - Mike Wallace
WR 2 - Hines Ward
WR 3 - Emmanuel Sanders
WR 4 - Antonio Brown
WR 5 - Limas Sweed
Mike Wallace has a LOCK on the top WR position, while Ward is more than capable of handling the #2 spot.
Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown have proven beyond a doubt that they are more than capable of the 3/4 WR spots.
As for #5, and I KNOW I am going to take heat for this, is going to be Limas Sweed.
Yes, I know, Sweed has had numerous chances.
Yes, I know, Tyler Grisham is having a great camp.
Yes, I know, I know, I know.
The fact is, the #5 on the depth chart is going to have to be someone that will contribute on special teams, and be a player that is not going to see a lot of reps during the game.
Sweed will be better at that than Grisham.
Not only that, Grisham has already hit his talent ceiling, while Sweed COULD develop into a solid player.
Over his two seasons in the NFL, Sweed has been injured. Now that the injury bug COULD be gone, I think the Steelers are better served keeping someone that could still develop into a consistent red zone weapon, than a player that will struggle against dime defenses.
TE 1 - Heath Miller
TE 2 - John Gilmore
TE 3 - David Johnson
Heath Miller has been practicing not only at TE, but also in a role that has been made popular by the Colts and Cowboys. Split out wide, forcing the opposing defenses to cover him with either a LB or CB. It they go with the LB, Miller runs a pattern. If they use a CB, Miller can work the inside.
Gilmore was brought in more as a blocker than a catcher. His skills will be used on the line more than off of it.
Johnson is almost guaranteed a spot, based on the Steelers not having a FB on the roster, and Johnson pretty much plays that position.
LT - Flozell Adams
LG - Chris Kemoeatu
C - Maurkice Pouncey
RG - Willie Colon
RT - Marcus Gilbert
One thing that has caught my attention, and it may mean nothing, but on the Steelers roster, on steelers.com, Maurkice Pouncey is listed as C/G. That means, there is a chance the Steelers are thinking about moving him to guard, if someone else can step up and play the Center position.
Not saying it IS going to happen, only that I find it odd Pouncey would have that as his position.
YES, I believe that the Steelers will eventually bring back the "Hotel". He wants to start, and with Max Starks gone, there is a better than average chance that Flozell Adams could return to the Steelers, and play his natural position.
It has been stated that if Willie Colon were to move inside to Guard, that he could be a Pro Bowl caliber player. His biggest issue at Tackle, is his arms are not really long enough to push people away at a distance. Don't be shocked if this happens.
RDE - Brett Keisel
NT - Casey Hampton
LDE - Ziggy Hood
RDE - Cameron Hayward
NT - Chris Hoke
LDE - Aaron Smith
Yes, I believe that Ziggy Hood will actually start more, or at least get more playing time, than Aaron Smith.
No, I am not saying he is better, only that Smith will have fewer plays, to help prevent injury over the course of the season, and healthy for the playoffs.
D-Line coach Johnny Mitchel stated in an interview with Gary Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, that they would like to introduce Hayward similarly to the way they did with Hood. As Hayward learns more of the defense, he will get more playing time.
OLB - LaMarr Woodley
ILB - Lawrence Timmons
ILB - James Farrior
OLB - James Harrison
Yes, I believe that James Farrior's best days are behind him. If the Steelers were going to cut him, it would have been done already. This is probably his last year with the Steelers, unless he decides to coach.
Then again, that is what I said last year.
There is a chance Larry Foote is not on the opening day roster. Depending on how Stevenson Sylvester looks during training camp will be the determining factor of Foote's career in Pittsburgh.
When the Steelers drafted Jason Worlids and Sylvester, I knew, as did most Steelers fans, that they would be the eventual replacements for James Harrison and James Farrior. This is a scary group of players right now, I can only imagine what they are going to be like with all four starters under the age of 30.
The team speed on this defense is going to be sick.
If Chris Carter is near as good as I am hearing, the Steelers are going to have a nice problem, with more talent than they can fit on the field. What else would you expect from Steelers linebackers?
RCB - Ike Taylor
LCB - Bryant McFadden
Nickel - Crezdon Butler
Dime - Curtis Brown
Yes, I believe the William Gay experiment will be over with the final roster cuts.
Bryant McFadden spent most of 2010 with injuries, and I believe that he will return to his 2008 form, when he helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII.
Curtis Brown will earn playing time in the Dime by the end of preseason. (remember, you heard it hear first)
Cortez Allen is not ready to get on the field for the Steelers, but they will keep him on the roster so that they don't risk losing him to another team if they put him on the practice squad.
The Steelers believe Allen has a big future in Pittsburgh, and will keep him on the roster so they don't lose him.
Did anyone notice Keenan Lewis is not on here?
SS - Troy Polamalu
FS - Ryan Clark
If Troy Polamalu can stay healthy, he could win the DPOY again in 2011.
The Steelers are going to keep five players at the Safety position. Keenan Lewis could move back to corner, but the Steelers are hoping to get him experience playing behind Polamalu and Clark.
DCS could actually earn some playing time in the dime situations.
Ryan Mundy is more for special teams than anything else. He has had numerous chances over the last two years to prove he deserves playing time, and has not capitalized on those chances.
Punter - Daniel Sepulveda
Kicker - Shaun Suisham
Long Snapper - Greg Warren
The Steelers will give Sepulveda a chance to make the team again, and he will be able to, provided he does not tear his ACL again.
Every year Sepulveda has been on the Steelers, and tore his ACL, the Steelers went on to play in the Super Bowl.
Scott Suisham played decent in 2010, but it does not look like the Steelers are very interested in bringing in any competition for him this off season.
Baron Batch (RB)
Anthony Gray (NT)
Eric Greenwood (WR)
Mario Harvey (LB)
Kyle Jolly (OT)