Ridiculously Early 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers Projected Roster and Other Goodies (V 1.0)

The Steelers went a long way toward boosting their thinnest depth chart in recent memory and addressing several needs by drafting nine players and signing 15 rookie free agents over the weekend.

Pittsburgh, however, still has a major need to add depth for its offensive line, where the team has only six players on its roster who have played in more than one NFL game. It was ridiculous for some Steeler experts to argue for taking an offensive guard in the first round, since no one on the Steelers’ projected starting offensive line could become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2014 season.

The team addressed this long-standing weakness by taking four players in the first two rounds of the 2010-12 NFL Drafts, and then re-signing guard Ramon Foster to a 3-year contract this offseason. In addition to a lack of depth (particularly at tackle), the Steelers should be concerned about protecting the blindside of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In easily leading the Steelers in total plays, veteran Max Starks was in on every snap at the important left tackle position in 2012, compiling one of his best seasons after finishing each of the previous two years on injured reserve.

Moreover, in their combined three NFL seasons, former second-round picks and projected starting tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams, have missed multiple games due to injury. Therefore, an ideal scenario would see the Steelers bring back Starks to compete for a starting job and at worst serve as the team’s No. 3 tackle.

The 31-year-old Starks is one of three veteran free agents at left tackles (along with Bryant McKinnie and Jared Gaither) who several teams would like to add to their roster. Like the other two, though, Starks is reportedly only interested in signing with a team where he could be a starter. The Steelers, who have not ruled out Starks returning, should at least afford him that chance, particularly since they have no depth at tackle and would be forced to start undersized reserve guard Kevin Beachum in the event of an injury to Gilbert or Adams.

It is plausible that the Steelers will sign or re-sign one or two veteran offensive linemen to its training-camp roster. Interior offensive linemen Doug Legursky and Antoine Caldwell may be the best bets, but the projected roster below assumes the Steelers’ have learned from their past mistakes and negligence of the offensive line (e.g., opening the 2011 season with Jonathan Scott as their unquestioned starter at left tackle). The Steelers should use their available resources to re-sign Starks after June 1st (when additional cap space comes open from the release of Willie Colon), while hoping a team like San Diego does not ink him beforehand.

 

Projected 53-Man, Opening-Day Roster
** = Roster Lock (95% or better barring major injury or arrest)
* = Roster Near Lock (75-94% barring major injury or arrest)
No stars = Clinging to the 53-man roster at this point
(These stars assume no more roster additions or season-ending injuries)

OFFENSE

QB Ben Roethlisberger **

QB Bruce Gradkowski **

QB Landry Jones **

RB Le’Veon Bell **

RB Isaac Redman*

RB Jonathan Dwyer (or possible FA signing Ahmad Bradshaw)

RB/Ret. La’Rod Stephens-Howling *

FB Will Johnson *

TE/FB/H-B D.J. Johnson

TE Heath Miller ** (could also begin season on PUP list)

TE Matt Spaeth **

TE David Paulson *

WR Antonio Brown **

WR Emmanuel Sanders **

WR Markus Wheaton **

WR Jerricho Cotchery *

WR Plaxico Burress

LT Marcus Gilbert **

LG Ramon Foster **

C Maurkice Pouncey **

RG David DeCastro **

RT Mike Adams **

T Max Starks (projected free-agent signing)

G/T/C Kevin Beachum **

C/G John Malecki (or possible FA signing of Doug Legursky or Antoine Caldwell)

T/G Chris Hubbard (or any of the 6 rookie free-agent OL)

DEFENSE

DE Ziggy Hood **

NT Steve McLendon **

DE Brett Keisel **

DE Cameron Heyward **

NT Alameda Ta’amu

DE/NT Al Woods

OLB LaMarr Woodley **

OLB Jarvis Jones **

OLB Jason Worilds **

OLB Chris Carter *

OLB Adrian Robinson

ILB Lawrence Timmons **

ILB Larry Foote **

ILB Stevenson Sylvester

ILB Vince Williams

SS Troy Polamalu **

FS Ryan Clark **

SS Shamarko Thomas **

FS Robert Golden *

CB Ike Taylor **

CB Cortez Allen **

CB William Gay **

CB Curtis Brown *

CB Terry Hawthorne

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Shaun Suisham **

P Drew Butler **

SN Greg Warren **

 OTHERS

IR: ILB Sean Spence

 

Opening Game-Day Inactives (7): QB Landry Jones, RB Jonathan Dwyer, TE Heath Miller, OL John Malecki, OL Chris Hubbard, OLB Adrian Robinson, CB Terry Hawthorne

Practice Squad (8): RB Curtis McNeal, WR Justin Brown, OL Ivory Wade and Joe Madsen (or any 2 of the 6 rookie free-agent OL signed), DE Nic Williams, NT Hebron Fangupo, ILB Marshall McFadden, CB Josh Victorian

Other Players On Roster Not Currently Projected to Make Opening-Day 53-man Roster or 8-Man Practice Squad: QB John Parker Wilson; RB Baron Batch; WR David Gilreath, Derek Moye, Kashiff Moore, Bert Reed, J.D. Woods and Reggie Dunn; TE Jamie McCoy and Zach Pilanto; OL Joe Long, Justin Cheadle, Nike Embernate, Mike Golic, Jr. and Mike Farrell; DL Anthony Rashad White, Cordian Hagans, Omar Hunter and Brian Arnfelt; LB Brian Rolle, Kion Wilson and Alan Baxter; S Damon Cromartie-Smith; CB Justin King, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Isaiah Green; K Daniel Hrapmann; SN Luke Ingram

Top Camp Roster Battles:

1. Battle for 1-2 back-up offensive line spots and 1-2 practice squads among 6 rookie free-agent offensive linemen.

2. Alameda Ta’amu vs. Hebron Fangup for back-up NT.

3. Terry Hawthorne vs. Justin King vs. Damon Cromartie-Smith vs. DeMarcus Van Dyke vs. Josh Victorian for No. 9 DB.

4. Stevenson Sylvester vs. Vince Williams vs. Adrian Robinson vs. Marshall McFadden vs. Brian Rolle vs. Kion Willson for final 2-3 roster spots at linebacker.

5. Plaxico Burress vs. Justin Brown for No. 5 WR.

6. La’Rod Stephens-Howling vs. Baron Batch for change-of-pace-back, slight possibility that both are kept and Dwyer cut.

7. D.J. Johnson vs. Jamie McCoy for TE/FB/H-back, assuming Heath Miller is not able to play for first couple of games due to off-season knee surgery but does not go on PUP. If Miller is healthy for opening-day, this position may not be filled, opening up another spot for a sixth WR or an extra lineman.

8. Nic Williams for potential No. 7 DL vs. a potential No. 9 OL.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Ridiculously early, but surprisingly convincing.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    This is a thoughtful and thorough analysis. There may be a few cheap veteran options after June 1, but those are obviously difficult to project. My only small quibble is that I think it is more likely that we’d keep 10 OL than 8 (the last comment on Nic Williams implies 8 might happen).

    • ted

      9 is generally the No. of OL kept, but it was 8 last year. It has been 10 when they have young talent they want to protect on the 53-man roster. Doubt that is the case this year after not drafting any. They only dress seven OL on game day, but like to keep 11 out of 61 (roster and practice squad).

  • Intropy

    Looks pretty sound. I have only one spot where I have a well-reasoned counter argument.

    For RB you have Bell, Redman, Dwyer, and Stephens-Howling.

    I think we can agree Bell is a lock. I also agree that four is the most likely number. So who is the odd man out of Redman, Dwyer, Stephens-Howling, and Batch.

    If I’m dividing them into two groups I have the big guys, Bell, Redman, and Dwyer, and the small guys, Stephens-Howling and Batch. Stylistically I think the continuum is Redman, Bell, Dwyer, Batch, Stephens-Howling from bruiser to scat. If you’re looking to maximize variety, which is not your ultimate objective, but is a consideration, I think that means you take two bigs and two smalls. Bell I’m least sure about, but I suspect the gap between him and Redman is the smallest. Additionally Batch has performed well on special teams. I think those all taken together indicate that one of Dwyer or Redman is the most likely to be left out. Of those two I think they are fairly close right now, but Dwyer has more upside and is younger. I therefore conclude that Redman is the most likely of the four to be cut.

    Of course the only cut that would actually surprise me is Bell.

    • Intropy

      As far as NTs go, I think unless Ta’amu does something boneheaded outside of play he will make the team. I just think he’s too talented to get beaten out in training camp. I think it would be shocking were Fangupo to play himself into the role.

    • ted

      That may well be right, but I sure hope not. The Steelers generally only keep one small RB. Plus, Dwyer and Redman are far superior RBs to Batch, who is not NFL quality with the ball in his hands. Redman is a short-yardage specialist who is excellent in pass pro, so I doubt he gets cuts.

      If one goes, it is most likely Dwyer, but that could only happen if Bell excels in preseason and/or the Steelers sign Bradshaw. Of course if Dwyer shows up to camp out of shape again that could be it for his tenure in Pittsburgh. But if this team has multiple injuries, who do you want starting out of Dwyer and Batch? Plus, the team generally only dresses 3 TBs on gameday, and Batch’s special teams contribution do no good if he is not among the 46 active players.

      • Intropy

        To answer you question, I’d want Dwyer. That’s a reasonable point about backups. I was thinking much more about the all-healthy situation. Meh, anyway, I think I’m right back to my, “meh, fungible” position on the issue. Any of them will do fine if DeCastro pans out, and Pouncey and at least one tackle remain healthy.

        • ted

          Unless this team signs Starks, it needs both tackles to mature, play well, and stay healthy, or disaster will ensue. Adding Winston Justice will at least provide some depth at OT, but the Steelers need Starks to feel comfortable at tackle.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    It’s too bad there isn’t a player named Cooper Gretz. It would be an interesting battle between him and Kion Wilson: OL/sacks and game day performance vs. length / prolific and leadership / stats.

  • Cols714

    I was wrong about which pick would be hated. Clearly it’s the Bell pick. Arthur Brown (who sounds like a Larry Foote clone) seems to be the guy everyone wants. I disagree on this. I really don’t see why you’d pick a 2 down ILB in the 2nd round with needs at WR and RB. But I guess you could say the same thing about RB.

    I don’t mind the Bell pick, but Colbert is going to take lots of heat for this one if Montee Ball or Jonathon Franklin end up being better. I could see passing on Lacy because he’s a bad receiver and had a turf toe problem though.

    • Eric

      I saw one scouting write up that said A. Brown was more of a coverage linebacker. If so, that doesn’t really fit with the buck role in the 3-4.

      • ted

        Exactly. Brown is a nice prospect, who LeBeau would love and utilize in different ways. But athletically he is very similar to Timmons, in that both are Will LB types who are not good against teams that run right at them and both need to be on the field for 3 downs. Still, I would have preferred Brown over Bell in the 2nd round (since the WRs were gone and Allen may have been of our board) and then address RB in the 4th; although my first choice would have been to trade out of the 2nd round at that point. Hope Bell makes me regret that statement in September.

    • Intropy

      If I could spend a 2nd round pick to reset Larry Foote’s age and contract I’d take it without hesitation.

  • Eric

    The Steelers signed former Bills Pro Bowl punter B.Moorman. He’s 37, so I don’t know how much he has left. Glad they’re looking for some competition at punter. The production there hasn’t been very good in awhile.

    • Intropy

      Kluwe seems quite likely to be a free agent pretty soon.

  • Cols714

    The CB the Steelers took in the 5th round seems like a Keenan Lewis clone.

  • Canadian Steeler

    Pretty sure this is discussed elsewhere, but I don’t have a huge problem with the Landry Jones pick. Yes, there are other needs at that point (I too would have rather taken Franklin in that round than Bell in the 2nd) but the Steelers went 1-2 without Ben last year. And then he came back before he should’ve and was below average. Our offense does run through that QB position and there’s not someone with Landry Jones skillset available in free agency. I like him a whole lot more than Tyler Bray.

    The idea that QB isn’t a need because the Steelers have Ben doesn’t really make sense when you consider how much he gets injured. Imagine having an even close to healthy Ben in the playoffs because we weren’t desperate to rush him back?

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I agree. I’ve wanted the Steelers to groom a young backup QB for years. I even had the mostly irrational hope that Hoyer might be that guy.

      The question I have is how highly they rated Barkley. He was available in the 4th round, so it wouldn’t have taken too much to get him. For a guy who might have been a top 10-15 pick if he’d come out after his junior year, it might have been worth it. He’s also the kind of guy who could have commanded a high pick in a trade if he flashed skills when inevitably filling in for an injured Ben.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    In honor of Joe Greene’s retirement, how about podcast #75?

  • Cols714

    Just kill this site or give it to someone who will write for free for a while.

    • Eric

      Psssttt… I think they did kill it. We’re the ones hovering over the corpse and still trying to apply those electric paddles.

      • EasyLikeSundayMorning

        Chidi signed as the Steelers BLESTO scout and this didn’t even prompt a comment. What, does Ty Carter need to win a UFC bout to provoke something?

        • bengt

          The article on Chidi’s return would have to go on heelssoxsteelers anyway.

          • Eric

            Ha!

  • Rob D

    Glad to hear Mike ADams is going to be OK after that stabbing.
    In other news, it’s hilarious to read some web sites going on and on about what a GREAT draft we had. I think we had a good one too; don’t get me wrong. But you’d think we just drafted Jack Lambert, Joe Greene, Mel Blount and Franco Harris…lol. It’s good to be optimistic but I think we might wait til midseason or so to decide what we potentially have after this year’s draft.
    I’m liking what I am hearing about the new O-line coach and scheme. I think we are going to have a great bounce back year as it seems a lot of people are angry about the mediocrity of 8-8. I think we needed to get quicker and lighter along the O-line and we certainly have some athletes now who can answer the bell in those categories.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Hope Adams is fine. Regardless, it is too bad Starks already signed with the Chargers…

      • Canadian Steeler

        I agree that it would’ve been smart to re-sign Starks, but I think I can see the rationale behind it. He’s too good to put on the bench and at some point you need to give the youth a chance. Sure, the argument can be made that they should only play when they win the job over the veteran, but they’re on the clock as it comes to team controlled years and their best way to learn is to make and learn from mistakes. For example, I bet DeCastro returns a better player this year after getting whooped by Geno Atkins last year.

        Now, Ben is obviously more important than developing offensive tackles. If you’re not doing everything you can to protect him and keep him healthy, any gain you receive by going with youth is mitigated by losing the franchise player. The argument the FO must be making is that having Gilbert and Adams at tackle will go further to extend Ben’s career by giving him better protection 3-5 years down the road.

        Saying all that, I would’ve liked to see Starks back. I think I’m just dying for some rational Steelers’ discussion. Steelers Depot had an article going after Mike Adams for being out late, using random fans’ twitter feeds as sources…

        • Rob D

          Twitter will be the death of us all…even major news orgs are using it as a legit source of “how the public is feeling”

      • Rob D

        Company line is that STarks doesn’t fit the new scheme..too slow and plodding. But I think we are woefully thin at tackle and we are banking on an unproven Gilbert to be very good to excellent right out of the blocks. I don’t think he’s a special talent. Damn scary. Whimper is our possible starter at RT if Adams runs into any complications/conditioning issues…Have no idea why the STeelers signed that guy..none.He’s awful.Have to believe Beachum is better than him.

        ” According to Pro Football Focus, Whimper gave up a league-high 14 sacks in 2011 and graded out as 74th out of 80 tackles going into last season with the Jags.”

        So I guess I’d rather have Starks on the team right now..He was a rock..nothing spectacular and not Pro Bowl material, but he generally kept Ben clean and seemed to have great games in BIG games..the word clutch comes to mind actually.

  • countertorque

    I suppose most of you saw this already. Mike Tanier’s take on the Steelers.

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/49447398

  • DaveBry

    Ziggy Hood is a bust. Ziggy is the lowest rated DE in 3-4 systems in the NFL, that is in respected websites, you can look it up.

    Chris Carter proved useless in his second year in NFL last year. Had to draft Jarvis Jones & speed up Jarvis’ acclimation to the NFL.

    Sean Spence was a wasted draft pick even if he had not gotten hurt – which was bound to happen anyway because Spence is undersized for NFL.

    Keisel has become too slow.

    Landry Jones was a wasted draft pick. Should have instead gotten a third QB as a rookie free agent, & used that pick for a need position. Instead we drafted a QB who cant handle pressure in the pocket. He threw for many yards in college but many QBs do that & they dint dven get drafted. Smh.

  • Eric

    Psst… is there anybody out there?

    If so, read this.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      Excellent article, thanks for sharing. Lots of good stuff in it. For example, I don’t remember reading or hearing much about how Ben intentionally manipulates coverage by moving around.

      • Rob D

        Nice to run across a good article in the offseason. It’s a hot day here in Kingston, Canada..And I’m wearing my Mean Joe Greene jersey to take a walk into town. Representing in the hood..
        WE really need someone to take the reins and bring this forum back…It attracted the intelligent side of Steelers Nation and was a pleasure to read and share with all of you.

        • Canadian Steeler

          I’m in. That article was great, by the way. There’s always so much fluff Steelers’ content around that following them in the offseason can be pretty tedious. Besides scouring the internet for interesting content, what else could we do to make the offseason bearable?

          Haven’t had a chance to listen to these yet (you guys probably have), but here’s the AFC North Draft Review from:

          Shutdown Corner (Greg Cosell) – http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/shutdown-corner-afc-north-draft-review-podcast-greg-172613902.html

          Draft Countdown – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/draftcountdown/2013/05/22/draft-countdown

          • Rob D

            Enjoyed both of those! Thanks..I never seem to find good ones when i go trolling for Steeler articles. Cosell is a very fair commentator who admits that noone can truthfully say someone is going to make the NFL. But he seems to like our draft which is encouraging. I think we have a very solid group of draftees who show promise. My current faves are Wheaton (who I think is a legit steal where we got him) Vince Williams (a lot of experts think he’s a player) and Le’Veon (whose name I’m trying to learn. I Hope he sticks around and not be another Fuamatu-Ma’afala ..I had just mastered the spelling and the kid was gone with the wind!)
            Of course, if they all suck, this tape recording will self destruct and you won’t be able to prove anything!

        • Eric

          I’ve been thinking about this ever since the site started dying off. Understandably, Ryan/Adam/JJ probably don’t want to lose their ownership of SteelersLounge but they are also busy with other (paying) projects/real life. Maybe the best solution would be for Ryan/Adam/JJ to enlist a moderator from amongst us to post stories or game threads and keep the lights on. That way they could still retain their control and post when they felt like it but wouldn’t be obligated to show up frequently to keep the site going.

          If I was them, I’d see if Randy Steele would be up for it. I seem to recall he has some background in publishing and also is both even keeled and a regular commenter. Thoughts?

          • Rob D

            I think it’s crucial to have this place up and running before we hit the preseason. A lot of people are understandably on vacation or not into football (the fools! lol..the key is not to have a life) at this time of year. If we even have a couple of articles a week to mull over and spark discussioin, the people who pop back in to see if its still here will realize it IS. Once its gone, it’s gone..and I can’t take another meander through the void known as the ESPN boards. I can’t! I’m going to turn into a pillar of salt from the accumulated dumbness. Hence the need for SL to resurrect itself.

  • Randy Steele

    I ran across this item today on CBS Sports.com by Will Brinson and tried to think of someone to share it with. Unfortunately no one visits this site anymore, so I guess I’m talking to myself:

    “People always throw out weird stuff surrounding their death (“When I die I want blah blah blah”) but you rarely see people follow through on it. Not Scott E. Entsminger, a Browns fan who died at the age of 55 on July 4.

    Entsminger “was an accomplished musician, loved playing the guitar and was a member of the Old Fogies Band.” He was also, per his obituary in the Columbus Dispatch, a “lifelongCleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder.”

    The deceased wasn’t just your average Browns fan: He apparently wrote a song each year about the Browns, which he sent to the team along with advice about how to run the organization.

    And he was such a big Browns fan that the family encouraged everyone attending his funeral wear clothes supporting the team. But here’s the real kicker — he wanted his pallbearers to be Browns as well.

    Why? Well …

    “He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.”

    Oh, Browns. You even managed to get beat by the deceased.”

  • countertorque

    Where is everyone else getting their content with this site out of action? Can I find this quality of discussion anywhere else?

    • Rob D

      There ain’t no place like this place anywhere near this place! WE need to keep this alive somehow.