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Steelers Analysis

Three Sleepers That Stood Out at Steelers OTAs

Who were some of the sleepers that stood out at Pittsburgh Steelers OTAs? Here are three names to keep an eye out coming out of that.

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Pittsburgh Steelers WR Dez Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick at the team's OTAs, May 21, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers often have a few guys begin to plant seeds as standout players during OTAs. In the past, I have seen guys like Jaylen Warren put their stamp on things starting around this time, and once training camp came around, that is when everything would take off. So, three players who stood out at OTAs would be under the radar.

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

Beanie Bishop, Slot CB

This is one of my more apparent picks from these three weeks. Bishop is up there with the most impressive player to come out of this period, and I very much think that he is positioning himself in an excellent spot to make a roster push in training camp and the preseason. He has faced numerous challenges, including from fellow rookie wide receiver Roman Wilson, and I would say that Bishop has stuck out from the crowd.

It’s a little different because Bishop is actively working only in coverage. I think it’s hard to measure his grit and physicality as a blitzer when you can barely touch anyone and the pads are not on. Still, Bishop has proven to be a disruptor across the nine days of practice, and he has frustrated just about everyone he has gone up against.

So, Bishop’s doing an excellent job of embracing his role in the defense and consolidating what he can do in coverage against fellow rookies and other veterans. He put his name on the map to coaches, and training camp should be even more eventful with Bishop playing this well.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Nate Meadors

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Nate Meadors at the team’s OTAs session, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Nate Meadors, Safety

I am calling Meadors a safety because that is where he has played the most. He spent last season with the Cleveland Browns but has spent time in Minnesota with the Vikings, learning under Harrison Smith. Meadors is a physically imposing player and looks big to be a safety, so it makes sense that he had a background as a press-man cornerback in college. But he flashed play after play at OTAs.

Meadors took what would have been a pick-six back during a goal-line drill and, in the last week of practices, amounted to at least five pass breakups. He has great range, and with his length, he disrupts throwing windows from a single-high safety role at a high level. However, he can cover tight ends and slot receivers due to his background as a cornerback, and he has found an overhang slot cornerback role.

Around this time last year, Elijah Riley stamped himself as someone to watch, but Meadors is trying to be this year’s version of that. That safety room has a lot of bodies in it, and Meadors will have to do a fair amount to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, but he is proving to be a versatile ballhawk, which is a great first step toward doing that.

Steelers Dez Fitzpatrick

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick at OTAs, May 23, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Dez Fitzpatrick, Wide Receiver

I think Dez Fitzpatrick is criminally underrated when discussing the bottom of this wide receiver roster. I don’t blame people for throwing Marquez Callaway and Denzel Mims around more there, considering their pedigree. Still, Fitzpatrick was on the team’s 53-man roster at times last season and is an excellent special teamer. Last year, he had excellent OTAs, which allowed him to earn a practice squad spot.

Fitzpatrick is doing much of the same this season. He has sure hands and is savvy enough as a receiver to prove his veteran pedigree. But on special teams, he might be the most natural gunner out of the entire group behind the top three. His special team’s insight, especially with the new kickoff rules and a huge hole at gunner, gives Fitzpatrick an into the roster that others in that room do not have.

We’ll see where that wide receiver situation goes, and I think they do add someone, but Fitzpatrick is a sneaky under-the-radar name that has a real chance to crack the roster due to his special teams versatilty.

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SWS
SWS
June 8, 2024 2:59 pm

Hard not getting too excited after reading about Meadows

Dave
Dave
June 8, 2024 9:12 pm

Hearing the early reports about Austin, I’m beginning to think he could take over DJ’s role. I like Fitzpatrick and am not worried about our WR depth. Although, I would’ve drafted Brendan Rice over Ryan Watts. But maybe his fate was already predestined for the west coast (cough, cough) seeing he was a 4th to 5th round graded WR who became a 7th round gift for SD and new coach Harbaugh. Truthfully, SD is a great spot for Rice and our draft was excellent so it’s more of an observation than anything.

Less Tomlin
Less Tomlin
June 9, 2024 10:08 am
Reply to  Dave

There was a huge need for a #3 receiver to step up last year, Austin rose to the occasion with 180 yards in 17 games. A whole lot of question marks with this WR room.