Monday, September 5, 2011

The 2011 Steelers Starting Lineup and Position Depth (Chart)

    The Steelers initial roster is now set and all eyes look forward to the start of the season and the hated Baltimore Ravens. Aside from former West Allegheny High School star WR/TE/H-Back Dorin Dickerson and former Bears third-round draft pick WR Juaquin Iglesias getting workouts with the Steelers on Tuesday, all is set. You can read more about them here thanks to steelersdepot.com:
    Before looking forward to the 2011 roster and depth chart, though, here's the link to look back at the 53-man projection made here on If It Ain't Steel to see how we did:  http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=7665637725330682289&postID=6868306088995289676
    Ok, now that we see that prognostication isn't an exact science, on to the current roster and depth chart. The starters will be bold lettered and in italics. Here we go:

OFFENSE:

Quarterbacks:
Ben Roethlisberger- #7 (captain) has made incremental improvements reading defenses and has quietly improved other parts of his game too. His shortened delivery has also helped him avoid sacks and interceptions better than ever before; Charlie Batch- Uncle Charlie benefits from an injury to a QB seeded in front of him for the second straight year and will make the most of it; Dennis Dixon- would seem to make the most sense for the no. 2 spot now that Leftwich is out because he's younger, faster and more athletic than Uncle Charlie, but Batch knows the system inside out and is more football-wise.

Running Backs:
Rashard Mendenhall- his 13 TDs last year led the team in scoring and he has the chance at 1,500 yards this year because of a much better passing game setting up the running game; Isaac Redman- gained 5-10 lbs of muscle and ran with authority all preseason; Mewelde Moore- slow and steady wins the race...and the 3rd RB spot; Jonathan Dwyer- thank Baron Batch's torn ACL for this one....but he has started to show real promise.

Wide Receivers:
Mike Wallace- so fast...but he needs to be more than that and will be this season; Hines Ward- (captain)the REAL Man of Steel; Emmanuel Sanders- the outlook is getting more and more optimistic regarding Manny's feet to the point where he played and looked very good in the last preseason game; Antonio Brown- has been the preseason MVP and, as long as he doesn't try to be Spider-Man again, should be MVP in a few games this year too; Jerricho Cotchery- he's a poor man's Hines Ward and half of his career NFL touchdowns have been in the red zone; Arnaz Battle- (captain) wasn't even on my first roster projection mainly because of his (lack of) performance against Washington. But he has shown himself overall worthy of a spot mainly because of his Special Teams play. Proof being that he was named ST captain.

Tight Ends:
Heath Miller- incredibly underrated TE who does everything; David Johnson- is a big part TE set mainly because he fills the H-Back role so well, but also played well when called upon during the preseason; Wes Saunders- this young man is a beast and should only get better.

Offensive Line:
Jonathan Scott- blindside; Chris Kemoeatu- if he keeps his head in the game...honestly, he's the best pulling guard in the league when he wants to be; Maurkice Pouncey- the anchor; Doug Legursky- The Big Legursky; Willie Colon- I have a habit of calling him Willie Colon Cancer, but all I'm seeing is good things as he was mauling guys in preseason games; Chris Scott- will back up at right tackle...for some reason, just don't ask me what that reason is; Marcus Gilbert- coming along slowly at left tackle, but wasn't unimpressive in the latter preseason games; Trai Essex- Y'all remember him, right? The emergency Center in the Super Bowl if something had happened to the Big Legusky. His entrance also meant sixth-round draft pick Keith Williams' exit and will mainly play right guard; Ramon Foster- solid as a backup right guard who'll also play left guard and is better against the run.

DEFENSE:

Defensive Line:
Aaron Smith- possibly the smartest DE...ever, and the unsung hero's last hurrah; Casey Hampton- looking solid as always; Brett Keisel- finally made a Pro Bowl last year; Evander Hood- Now the boys in the hood will pull ya card...and have Aaron's job by the end of the year; Cam Heyward- another lineman with a mean streak....and he's not afraid to use it; Chris Hoke- veteran player who can play multiple positions if needed; and my only real surprise, Steve McLendon- Steelers proved they wanted him by cutting Leftwich last year to add him to the roster for a game for help on the line, a game in which he had a sack. He then proved again that he belongs by having a disruptive preseason.

Linebackers:
Lamarr Woodley- expect bigger things this year from The Wood; James Farrior- (captain) blessed by Father Time; Lawrence Timmons- the mind boggles at what he could accomplish this year; James Harrison- "you got knocked the fu** out, man! (Deebo reference) he says his back is better, so we'll see as the season progresses; Sylvester Stevenson- not calling him a "beast" yet, but I've seen the fangs; Larry Foote- his swan song with the Steelers; Jason Worilds- better live up to my name, boy!; Chris Carter- all he does is catch touchd...oops, wrong Chris Carter...needs to gain weight, though.

Defensive Backs:
Ike Taylor- Face me, Ike!; Bryant McFadden- hurt again, but has to be pushed out of the starting position; Keenan Lewis- please push BMac out of the starting position; Willian Gay- *sigh* Willie, Willie, Willie...you need to excel in the nickel because you ain't worth a dime at Corner; Curtis Brown- needs to step up and be ready for special teams and nickel duties, but he WILL see playing time; Cortez Allen- Allen was hampered by a leg injury and couldn't get onto the field til the last preseason game, but had a very good coming out party. He is VERY RAW and needs time to hone his skills, but what an upside! Ryan Clark- glad he didn't decide to change careers permanently and park cars for a living; Troy Polamalu- The Predator is the reigning DPOY, but he may start to decline from this point; Ryan Mundy- stepping up well, played very well all preseason; Will Allen- still a valuable backup safety.

Special Teams:
Shaun Suisham (K)- Sushi! I really wanna see ID; Dan Sepulveda (P)- he's running out of ACLs, but, then again, maybe he really is Robo-Punter; Greg Warren (LS)- he wears no. 60 and you'd be surprised at how many downfield plays he actually makes.

Practice Squad:
LB Mortty Ivy- West Virginia university product who would make the roster of virtually any other NFL team, but these are the Pittsburgh Steelers, aka "Linebacker, Inc"
Trevis Turner- A tackle who is VERY RAW and will only benefit from being placed here in order to learn from OL coach Sean Kugler.
WR Tyler Grisham- Grisham has the edge in blocking and experience with the team and playbook, but just couldn't crack the top six.
TE Jamie McCoy- I don't know much about him admittedly, but he obviously showed enough to make the practice squad.
C/G John Malecki- Showed himself well in Camp and in the preseason games in general.
RB John Clay- He's one-dimensional and really needs another year to maturate.
DE Bryant Corbin- Wasn't on my original practice squad projections, but he found his way back, mainly because Gray was cut early.
S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith- Last, but not least... He's back on the PS and is creeping his way closer to seeing a roster spot considering this is McFadden's and Gay's last year in a Steelers uniform.