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Author Topic: Getting to the 2011 53-man roster  (Read 1280 times)
Finnegans Wake
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« on: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:46 »

Will update as camp and preseason continues.  Basing opinions off previous FO/Tomlin tendencies and my own stubborn opinions, plus whatever whisps of info I can stir up on the Internets.  Feel free to add.

Offense first.
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:46 »

QB
Ben Roethliesberger is your starter and the only stone cold lock at QB.  Behind him are three familiar names, but the backup position is shaky past 2011, which means it begs questions now.  Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, and Charlie Batch are all in their final contract years, and only Dixon figures to stick with the team moving forward.  

Dixon is in no-man’s land, however:  he needs the preseason of his 4th year pro to showcase that he’s ready to run an NFL offense consistently and crisply.  He’s shown signs of that, but not enough to warrant confidence as a replacement starter.  If he succeeds, his negotiating stance is better, but the Steelers might also consider trading him and rolling the dice in next year’s draft.  But that would leave them with nothing in the bag.  31-year-old Byron Leftwich and 36-year-old Charlie Batch are not the future, although Leftwich could stick around a few more years if needed.

Batch appears to be odd man out in terms of practice time, and I doubt the Steelers carry 4 QBs.  His only chance to stick seems to be if Dixon might garner trade value, or if Roethlisberger, Dixon, or Lefty get injured.

B. Roethlisberger – LOCK
D. Dixon – 90%
B. Leftwich – 80%
C. Batch – 30%



RB
Rashard Mendenhall, like Roethlisberger, is your starter and only stone cold lock at RB, although Isaac Redman may be close to a lock.  Redman is 26 already, but he’s familiar with the system, and has the frame to take over as feature back if Mendy gets hurt, something none of the other RBs appear capable of.  Versatile change of pace back Mewelde Moore was signed to a 2-year deal, but I wouldn’t consider that a guarantee that he makes the roster: his rushing totals have dipped from 588 to 118 to 99.  

Jonathan Dwyer needs to get his fat ass moving: allegedly, Dwyer showed up at camp in the Bettis weight range, and if he’s not in football shape soon he’ll be replaced by the impressive rookie Baron Batch.  Batch needs to add some heft to his frame, but he appears focused as a runner, receiver, and blocker, and there’s even a chance he could replace not only Dwyer but also Moore.  If we keep 4, bet on Moore and Batch.  If 3, I’m guessing Batch is the man.

Wisconsin’s John Clay is a big Big Ten bruiser who looks like a dark horse to make the 53-man roster, but could be an interesting candidate for the practice squad.  Second-year back James Johnson appears to be a camp body only.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – 90%
M. Moore – 50%
B. Batch – 45%
J. Dwyer – 5%


WR
With age and injury affecting Dancing With the Stars MVP Hines Ward, speedy second-year receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and annual footnote Limas Sweed, there has been some consideration of bringing in a free agent receiver, an idea I believe the FO will entertain right through camp cuts.  In the meantime, there are four mortal locks to this talented bunch:  Ward, Sanders, the insanely fast Mike Wallace,and Sanders-clone Antonio Brown.  

Shit or get off the pot, Limas.  2010 camp phenom Tyler Grisham has been a favorite early target for Ben, and being small, zippy, and white he draws the gratuitous Wes Welker comparisons.  Still, he looks like the only WR to distinguish himself enough to make the cut.  Arnaz Battle stuck when Antwaan Randle El got cut because, unlike Randle El, he’s not a receiver, he’s a special teams guy.  

Armand Robinson, Terrence McCrae, Adam Mims, and the ginormous Wes Lyons will be fun to watch in the preseason action before they are cut or consigned to the practice squad.

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
A. Battle – 50%
T. Grisham – 30%


TE[/u]
Heath Miller has the talent to be putting up stats along the lines of, say, Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.  But given the sad state of the OL, Miller will again be called on more as a blocker than receiver to compensate for poor draft prioritization.  And behind Miller there ain’t much, frankly.

David Johnson is essentially a fullback.  He’s working on his receiving skills, and he’s a decent blocker in his own right, but he’s a fullback.  Not that we can call him that, because if we ever had a dedicated fullback, OC Bruce Arians’s head would spin around 360 degrees and project a blended pea and mint emulsion.  Johnson seems likely to stick around as a utility guy, but he’s not a lock.  

The Steelers signed journeyman John Gilmore as a blocking TE, but it seems half-hearted, especially since the FO is still actively wooing more TE castoffs.  The big wild card here is Weslye Saunders, who appears to have the unwanted skill of being able to catch the ball, but needs to show he can block.  If he stones a few LBs in preseason, I think he makes the cut.  Vaughn Charlton and Jamie McCoy appear to be here for demented idiots who memorize the entire preseason roster and then regurgitate the fifth- and sixth-deep TEs as “guys to watch” when in fact they are not, because said idiots are soulless automatons who do nothing but jabber and annoy.

Looks like 3 TEs, with Saunders and Gilmore going for the final spot.

H. Miller – LOCK
D. Johnson – 85%
W. Saunders – 60%
J. Gilmore – 45%


OL[/u]
I just finished looking at the offensive line depth chart, and cleaning the blood off the fork I raked through both eyes afterwards, and there is some good news.  First, the Steelers might still find a bargain stud lineman in free agency.  OK, just kidding.  But they might sign back Flozell Adams or Max Starks for depth.  Or they may just roll with what they have, since OL coach Sean “Kugs” Kugler has proven that he can perform magic with the least bit of talent.  Note: Kugs shot himself in the ass with that one, since the FO decided they would never need to furnish him any talent, ever.  OK, in fairness, they drafted Max Starks Lite, and they have a bunch of roly polys who seem to have been cut from the same mold of big, slow, and big.  And slow.

Maurkice Pouncey is your star, but not your only lock, due to the aforementioned condition of the line.  Second-round pick Marcus Gilbert, a.k.a. Starks Lite, is surely a lock, as is Willie Colon, the paradigm for seemingly every offensive lineman we pick up like cat hair in late rounds and as UDFAs.  Backup LT Jon Scott is probably a lock as well, since he’s now the starter by default, God help us all.  Chris Kemoeatu is a lock because you just know he is.  Versatile C/G Doug Legursky is a damned-near lock.  

The Roly Polys are Ramon Foster, Chris Scott, and Keith Williams, all of whom have the size to play either OG spot or RT, since they are too slow to play LT.  Chris Scott was Foster’s U of Tenn OL teammate and manned LT, and so is presumably the fleetest of the rhinoceri, and he has gotten some good early buzz, as has Williams.  Foster has starts under his belt, however.

OT Tony Hills appears to be the can of Spam in the back of the pantry with the expiration date of 1966.  OT Trevis Turner has good size but will be hard pressed to show he fits.  OT Kyle Jolly looks ready for a second year on the practice squad.  C Colin Miller and OGs John Malecki and Nevin MCCaskill would seem to be warm bodies.

With 6 very nearly sure things and 3 Roly Polys, 9 seems like the winning number.

M. Pouncey – LOCK
W. Colon – LOCK
M. Gilbert – LOCK
J. Scott – LOCK
C. Kemoeatu - Lock
D. Legursky – 95%
R. Foster – 70%
C. Scott – 65%
K. Williams – 55%
T. Hills – 25%
Trevis Turner – 5%

« Last Edit: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:50 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 15:37 »

DL[/u]
A few short years ago, the DL was getting old and seemed terribly thin.  Now, depth is no issue, and a the line of succession at DE seems ready for a smooth transition.  The locks are Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Cameron Heyward.  Backup NT Chris Hoke, though 35, is a virtual lock, although I believe vertically-challenged Anthony “Fireplug” Gray could be his first serious challenge in a long time.  If nothing else, Gray seems like an excellent practice squad candidate.

Vets Ra’Shon “Sunshine” Harris and Steve McClendon may find themselves on the bubble.  If Hoke sticks and Gray is too good to risk on practice squad waivers, one or both could be leaving.  Heyward and Hood might be all the DE depth the team needs.

Note:  Chris Hoke and Steve McClendon have 1 year on their contracts, and Sunny Harris has 2.

Corbin Bryant, Miguel Chavis, and Jarrett Crittendon are guys I don’t want to spend too much time getting familiar with because they have no shot, no way, no how.  Maybe one of them sticks on the practice squad.

C. Hampton – LOCK
A. Smith – LOCK
B. Keisel – LOCK
E.Z. Hood – LOCK
C. Heyward – LOCK
C. Hoke – 95%
A. Gray – 35%
R. Harris – 25%
S. McClendon – 25%


ILB[/u]
The Steelers were also old and thin at ILB a few years ago, but they may have gotten some pretty decent developmental players.  The locks now are 36-year-old James Farrior, and Lawrence Timmons.  Keyaron Fox wore out his welcome and signed with the Redskins, and 31-year-old Larry Foote has a short career window, but seems likely to stay.

Sylvester Stevenson could make some waves in his second year and should stick as backup.  If he shows well enough to make Foote expendable, it could open the door for a youth movement for some interesting backups.   Fifth rounder Chris Carter has raw speed, and may show too much to hope to whisk to the practice squad.  UDFA Mario Harvey also has speed to burn, but he’s shorter and more likely to wind up on the practice squad.  Second-year guy Mortty Ivy has been cracking some hits at camp and should also receive strong consideration for practice squad. 

This should be a fun bunch to watch, and the question will be do we keep 4 or 5?  Another factor in favor of a potential youth movement?  Larry Foote’s $3.0M cap hit, which is highest for any non-starter and higher than Timmons’s cap hit.  That alone downgrades Foote slightly.

J. Farrior – LOCK
L. Timmons – LOCK
S. Sylvester – 90%
L. Foote – 75%
C. Carter – 50%
M. Ivy – 5%
M. Harvey – 5%


OLB[/u]
James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are your locks.  Duh.  There is no evidence Jason Worilds is Alonzo Jackson, so he’s a lock-by-default, although in fairness there’s scant evidence he’s not Zo.  Steelers couldn’t squirrel last year’s mid-rounder, Thad Gibson, on the practice squad, and are left without much after Worilds. 

Someone amongst Baraka Atkins, Chris Ellis, and Chris McCoy is going to need to emerge unless the Steelers add a camp cut FA, which seems a real possibility. 

4 seems like the magic number.

J. Harrison – LOCK
L. Woodley – LOCK
J. Worilds – LOCK
B. Atkins – 5%
C. Ellis – 5%
C. McCoy – 5%


S[/u]
When Troy Polamalu isn’t healthy, the entire secondary, and by ripple effect the entire defense, is compromised.  The good news is, the FO did absolutely nothing to bolster safety depth in the draft or in the UDFA scramble, so we’re back in the same boat.  Besides Troy, Ryan Clark is a lock.  Ryan Mundy is Just a Guy (JAG), as is Will Allen and then there are relative Who Gives a Shits (WigAsses) Damon Cromartie-Smith and Brett Greenwood. 

I wish there were better options.

T. Polamalu – LOCK
R. Clark – LOCK
W. Allen – 90%
R. Mundy – 85%


CB[/u]
CB is a position that would appear to be every bit the mess that S is, but at least there is a pipeline of young talent there.  Ike Taylor is the only lock based on actually ability to, you know, start in the NFL, but Bryant McFadden and William Gay are damned-near locks since they’re the birds in the hand.  And they could actually be decent players in nickel and dime packages, if only someone would take the reins opposite Ike.

It’s a lot to expect rookie Curtis Brown will be that guy, but I think his long-term future is very bright.  Second-year guy Crezdon Butler has the physical skills but needs to show he can step up and play, unlike Keenan Lewis, who’s in his third year and still appears to be some ways from ever starting.  Cortez Allen has been showing well in camp and could find a spot on the roster, although I wonder if the best spot would not be S.  Between Brown, Butler, and Allen, there is talent to be developed. 

Donovan Warren got some buzz a year ago among draft gurus until he ran abysmally slow, and he doesn’t seem to have much at this level.  Niles Brinkley will also have a difficult route to the NFL.

Very difficult to project how many CBs stick, but if it’s 6, I really see the big battle being between Lewis and Allen, and Lewis has everything to lose.

I. Taylor – LOCK
B. McFadden – 95%
W. Gay – 95%
C. Brown – 95%
C. Butler – 85%
C. Allen – 50%
K. Lewis – 50%


K/P/LS
Shaun Suisham did well enough last year to likely win the job back, but he’s no lock, and neither are the punters.  The punters being Dan Sepulveda, who seems to rip up a knee every other year, and Jeremy Kapinos, who was OK-fine in relief of Sepulveda.  LS Greg Warren is back, and unless I missed it there’s no other dedicated LS.  Oh, and if Suisham sucks, Swayze Waters is there to save us.

I’d love to get into a 14-page analysis of the kickers and snappers, but I really need to take a piss.

S. Suisham – 95%
D. Sepulveda – 50%
J. Kapinos – 50%

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« Reply #3 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 15:47 »

Kenny Moore replaces Adam Mims in the WR discussion above.  Moore is a 4th year guy out of Wake with nice speed who played 2 seasons with the Panthers and 1 with the Colts and has 59 career receiving yards.  Maybe the light goes on for him; he doesn't crack the odds just yet, however.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 17:53 »

Great stuff as always Finny.  Now, where did that delete button go... ?
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 18:09 »

And Baron Batch gets carted off today with a non-contact left knee injury.

Let's hope he didn't rip an ACL or something.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 07:10 »

And Batch confirms on his blogspot that it is indeed an ACL.

Sucks.  I really thought highly of this kid, perhaps more so from a character, high-effort perspective, and his early showing in camp was all the talk.  So, IR, a year to learn the pro system, hope it doesn't hurt his speed too much, maybe a nice 2012 surprise.

Will update RB odds.

 Angry
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 11:41 »

RB

Rashard Mendenhall, like Roethlisberger, is your starter and only stone cold lock at RB, although Isaac Redman may be close to a lock.  Redman is 26 already, but he’s familiar with the system, and has the frame to take over as feature back if Mendy gets hurt, something none of the other RBs appear capable of.  Versatile change of pace back Mewelde Moore was signed to a 2-year deal, but I wouldn’t consider that a guarantee that he makes the roster: his rushing totals have dipped from 588 to 118 to 99.  

Jonathan Dwyer needs to get his fat ass moving: allegedly, Dwyer showed up at camp in the Bettis weight range, and if he’s not in football shape soon he’ll be replaced by the impressive rookie Baron Batch.  Batch needs to add some heft to his frame, but he appears focused as a runner, receiver, and blocker, and there’s even a chance he could replace not only Dwyer but also Moore.  If we keep 4, bet on Moore and Batch.  If 3, I’m guessing Batch is the man.

Wisconsin’s John Clay is a big Big Ten bruiser who looks like a dark horse to make the 53-man roster, but could be an interesting candidate for the practice squad.  Second-year back James Johnson appears to be a camp body only.

UPDATE:  Batch's ACL removes most of the drama.  The only remaining questions are whether the Steelers will carry 3 or 4 RBs, and whether they might look for a free agent to fill the 4th spot if Dwyer, Clay, and Johnson don't impress.  Clay will need to show a lot, but I think Dwyer's conditioning is a bad sgn, so I'm guessing 3 RBs, and no FA signings.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – LOCK
M. Moore –LOCK
B. Batch – IR
J. Dwyer – 15%
J. Clay – 5%
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 14:04 »

The Cotchery signing should hurt Grisham's stock more than Battle's:  Grisham showed signs of being a guy who could be WR5 and possibly get work in relief or special packages.  Gets logarithmically tougher as WR6.

Don't think this hurts Battle, as his value is primarily on teams.  However, if they can find, say, a LB who's blowing it up on teams, then maybe they do go 6-deep on WR.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 12, 2011 at 13:26 »

WR
With age and injury affecting Dancing With the Stars MVP Hines Ward, speedy second-year receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and annual footnote Limas Sweed, there has been some consideration of bringing in a free agent receiver, an idea I believe the FO will entertain right through camp cuts.  In the meantime, there are four mortal locks to this talented bunch:  Ward, Sanders, the insanely fast Mike Wallace,and Sanders-clone Antonio Brown.  

Shit or get off the pot, Limas.  2010 camp phenom Tyler Grisham has been a favorite early target for Ben, and being small, zippy, and white he draws the gratuitous Wes Welker comparisons.  Still, he looks like the only WR to distinguish himself enough to make the cut.  Arnaz Battle stuck when Antwaan Randle El got cut because, unlike Randle El, he’s not a receiver, he’s a special teams guy.  

Armand Robinson, Terrence McCrae, Adam Mims, and the ginormous Wes Lyons will be fun to watch in the preseason action before they are cut or consigned to the practice squad.

UPDATE:  The Jerrico Cotchery signing locks down five WR spots, giving the Steelers their best WR squad in years.  Ward and Cotchery are the reliable vets who can man slot and flanker; Wallace is now a third-year man and while he’s a speed demon at split end, Arians may shuffle the deck a bit with Wallace’s expanded knowledge of the tree route.  Sanders and Brown had outstanding rookie seasons, and could reasonably run any WR route.  

The need for a sixth WR then comes down to keeping a special teams ace, like Battle, or simply keeping a guy whose talents impress, such as Grisham or even Sweed.  It seems unlikely that 6 WRs would have significant playing time, but it’s also possible that the coaches recognize the potential for Sanders to not be ready right away, or for Ward to wear down as the season approaches.  One factor against teams-only guys is that the new kickoff rule may result in more touchbacks, rendering teams less an urgent need.

Sweed’s best value might come as trade bait, either for a late round pick or for a player swap (think another team looking to get some value out of a player otherwise construed as a bust).

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
J. Cotchery - LOCK
T. Grisham – 25%
A. Battle – 15%
L. Sweed – 5%
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« Last Edit: Aug 12, 2011 at 13:28 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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