PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers 53-man roster is official. After a day of cuts, Pittsburgh has finalized their 2020 team and begin preparation for the regular season.
With the cuts came surprises. The team moved on from players that appeared to be locked in, gave veterans a second chance, and gave Steelers Nation their first look at the players looking to carry them to Super Bowl LV.
The five biggest surprises are both big and small. Some players made the roster I didn't think would, and others were cut when I was sure they would compete for quality rep counts this season.
The shock is over, though. It came and went fast. Now, let's look at the takeaways.
Dan McCullers Gets Cut
Say what you want about Ryan Switzer (we'll touch on this later), McCullers was a guy who was competing for a starting job. Even if he didn't win it, which no one believed he would, the expectation was another year as the team's backup.
However, "Skinny Dan" didn't do enough during camp to earn him his seventh year in Pittsburgh. And instead, they went with a rookie.
Carlos Davis is a quality late-round pick. The team's seventh-rounded has development in front of him but does have promise.
It's nothing against Davis, but it's very hard to imagine the Steelers got their best read on him in four weeks. Apparently, the potential was too high to let him walk over McCullers.
Or maybe, McCullers didn't have enough potential to stay over, saving $1 million if he left.
Marcus Allen Makes the Team
Allen moved to inside linebacker two weeks ago and has been the center of attention ever since.
The third-year player was turning heads at camp just for being in a new position. He certainly struggled from time to time in coverage, but overall, he had himself maybe his best camp yet.
The team decided to give Ulysees Gilbert a shot as the team's backup behind Vince Williams and Devin Bush. He earned it, and Allen and Robert Spillane showed enough to sit behind him.
The next question will be what role Allen plays in the defense this season? Maybe it's not much. But truthfully, I see a turn in the right direction after the move to the inside.
Remember, Allen, played in the box most of the time at Penn State. He's comfortable hitting players at the line of scrimmage. Now, he gets his first chance to in the NFL.
Ray-Ray McCloud > Ryan Switzer
McCloud came into training camp with two weeks to prove himself and did enough to overstep a player many believed was a lock.
Switzer was taking first-team kick and punt return duties. He was playing with the first team on the offense from time to time. No, he didn't have the best camp, but he sure looked like he was part of the team's gameplan.
I guess not.
McCloud is a speedy, elusive player who has all the attributes to play the slot and return game. He came into camp and immediately showcased his talent on the offense and special teams.
His kick return for a touchdown during the team's training camp scrimmage opened up everyone's eyes of what he's possible of, and the Steelers decided he was the one they were keeping.
James Pierre > Antoine Brooks Jr.
The Steelers' sixth-round pick didn't make the cut, but an undrafted rookie did. Training camp under shortened circumstances didn't come with many opportunities to shine as an undrafted free agent. Pierre beat the odds.
Pierre was one of the more prominent standouts in camp. He made a few plays that put attention on him and didn't allow any big plays that took that attention away.
Brooks is likely an addition to the practice squad as the team begins to put their reserve players together. Still, there was some belief he could earn himself a place as the team's final defensive back.
Safeties will include Curtis Riley and Jordan Dangerfield, with Pierre working across the secondary. He'll be the only rookie in the group. A role I thought Brooks had a chance at.
No Running Backs Get Cut
Yes, running backs got cut. But the big four that the Steelers have on their roster didn't get touched.
I was someone using Jaylen Samuels as my "big cut." He's been leaned on the last two years when Conner was dealing with injuries, but never showed enough in the running game to think he has potential as a true running back.
After the team drafted Anthony McFarland, I thought for sure that Samuels was gone, and the rookie was their next versatile back.
Then, when McFarland began showing his ability at training camp, Samuels disappeared. No one talked about him, he wasn't on the practice reports, and even Mike Tomlin acknowledged his pass-catching ability before his running strengths.
But I was wrong. They're keeping all four and chances are they utilize all four this season.