PITTSBURGH — The Steelers OTAs are now finished and wrapped up as they prepare for mandatory minicamp next week. However, looking back on OTAs, who ended up being winners from the three weeks of practices that the Steelers had overall? Here are five players that are winners.
RB Anthony McFarland
You may have heard about a lot of guys, but Anthony McFarland feels like someone who has flown under the radar but is probably worthy of some more praise. The past three weeks have been a good few showings for McFarland. He’s got the speed he has always had, but the Steelers seem to have a plan for him. McFarland said part of that plan could be splitting him out wide and getting him usage in ways that accentuates his speed.
Really, we won’t know if anything’s that different until the pads start to come on and we can see if the game has truly shown down for McFarland in the ways it has to slow down. But when you are the frontrunner for the RB3 spot, you have to do a certain level of things to maintain that spot. I felt like McFarland did more than that over these past few weeks.
CB Cory Trice
Maybe the unequivocal winner from all of these rookies has been Trice. Yes, the day he had last week was the peak of that. But there is something to be said about a guy who comes in and simply gets better each and every time you see him. I thought Trice’s growth over those three weeks was something that was really impressive. He doesn’t look too big for the moment and doesn’t look out of place against even Joey Porter Jr.
There’s a lot there for Trice to like when you see him. If it weren’t for the medical concerns, he would have been an early day three pick at the latest, potentially a day two pick. Everything you see on tape from him really checks out on that front, too. If he can keep it up, Trice could be the rare seventh-rounder who finds some legitimate snaps early on.
LB Mark Robinson
Someone else who just made plays the entire session was Mark Robinson. He’s a ball of energy out there and it shows. Robinson just sees the field a little better in year two as well. His contagious fervor is a little bit more controlled and he’s a vulture towards the football. On top of that, he’s been able to work with the first-team defense a little bit to really challenge himself moving forward.
I don’t think Robinson is a perfect player. But I am seeing a second-year guy who has made some reasonable second-year jumps at the position. Now, let’s see where that leads with this inside linebacker room needing some help even at this juncture in the year.
WR Calvin Austin III
Yet another player who just seemed to gain buzz and get more comfortable over his time out there, Calvin Austin III is a guy who has the speed he possessed before the foot injury he suffered in 2022 and is using it well. There is no year-two jump to look for here, as Austin never really had a rookie season anyways.
However, he uses his speed in ways that few people really do in the NFL. There’s a method to every madness, and speed can not be the only thing that guys win within the NFL. Austin uses the nuances of the position on top of his plus speed to really pop right off the field.
RB Jaylen Warren
Last but certainly not least out of the winners is Jaylen Warren. If you want to see an offseason transformation for the better, just look at this guy. He never really meticulously planned out to become as jacked as he is, but regardless he looks more explosive and athletic overall. Somehow, he is also stronger and that is coming from a guy who is one of the best pass-protecting backs in the NFL already.
Regardless, Warren makes plays consistently and continues to entrench himself into the RB2 role behind Najee Harris. He should play a lot, potentially even more than he did a season ago, as a result of what looks to be a second-year leap.