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Steelers Analysis

Three Biggest Winners from Steelers OTAs and Minicamp

Who are the the three biggest winners from the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason program? Here are the three names I picked out.

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason program is over as the team ramps up towards training camp in Latrobe next month. However, three players stood out above most others, which helped their roster standing. Who were they, and how will the team move from here?

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III at the team’s OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

WR Calvin Austin III

I don’t say this lightly, but no one had a better Spring than Calvin Austin III. He won at all three levels of the field with far more efficient route running than in the past. Why? He has eliminated redundant steps that accumulated over his releases and at the top of stems. Routes like curls, comebacks, and others where he was required to stop and pivot were superfluous with his footwork, so much so that teams just played him far off and did not have to worry about anything underneath. This year, though, it’s different.

Austin has worked on his footwork and thrown out the mentality that forced him to use redundant movements that did not help his route running.

“I had a mindset on when I would run routes that would have to be stopped on a curl, a stop route, a comeback, my mindset was I was too focused on the [defensive back] instead of just trusting my breaks,” “I have some of the best stop-starts of anybody so it was me being too focused on the [defensive back] and trying to use my hands instead of trusting my feet and trusting my advantage,” Austin said.

It’s noticeable. Austin wins not only deep, which he did once again, but he won underneath on primary routes. That included in the red zone, where Austin became a menace in short areas because of his quickness. Almost no one could cover him. One caveat is that these days are made for quick, smaller gyms like Austin, so I will keep my eyes out to see if this translates into games and pads. But for now, he is the biggest riser of the offseason.

Pittsburgh Steelers Cb Beanie Bishop

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Beanie Bishop during OTAs at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, May 21, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Slot CB Beanie Bishop

Relative to where this slot cornerback competition was, and still is, even with the introduction of Cam Sutton, Beanie Bishop did a ton to help himself. Bishop faced many body types, from bigger guys like Marquez Callaway and Van Jefferson to smaller, faster guys like Roman Wilson. And, well, he won most of those battles. It remains to be seen where Bishop rises to the task in run defense since none of this was in pads, but if his college tape holds, that should be a strength, too.

Bishop had at least ten pass breakups over the days at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, all of which came over the field, with multiple in the red zone. He had numerous interceptions and even forced several fumbles over the Spring. That is all to say that Bishop’s stock is steadily on the rise, and at this point, I would consider him a genuine contender to make the 53-man roster.

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton at the team’s OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

DT Keeanu Benton

The last player I will include on this list is Keeanu Benton. He looks better, and I thought he had a tremendous rookie season. Benton’s wicked first step looks even better, and based on the looks he has received, the game seems much slower for Benton. It’s hard to know how much he has taken a step in the pass rush and run defense departments without pads since defensive and offensive tackles can only speed rush and use their hands in this type of setting, so I will refrain from making declarations there. But he is processing the game much better and made numerous plays, whether that be batting down footballs.

He is slimmed down by a few pounds, and coming in with his rare frame already, Benton has the ceiling to be the best defensive tackle on the team. Last year, he won a lot but did not finish. Being a little lighter allows him to bend enough in tight areas to finish those would-be sacks. The stock should be way up for Benton.