Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Stock Value: Up
Who would have thought the guy’s stock could keep rising? But when you seal a big win against a winning team, yeah, you’re still trending northward. Since being acquired in Week Three, Minkah Fitzpatrick has been a turnover machine, the Alabama product recording five interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two defensive touchdowns among his takeaways over seven games.
Against the Los Angeles Rams last night, the second-year safety produced four tackles, a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown, the game-sealing interception, and two total passes defensed, not a bad day’s work. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if he earns Defensive Player of the Week honors.
What Fitzpatrick is doing is certainly not sustainable. He’s not going to finish the year with 14 or so takeaways. Chances are this is not what the rest of his career is going to be like—that has been the case for a select few over the years.
But he is a guy who is capable of stepping up and performing at this level at any time, and that alone is exciting. Not just the big-play potential, though, but the consistent, play-to-play performance, the ability to close the deep throwing angles. That has been his biggest influence since he’s arrived, in actual fact.
At the moment, it’s hard to imagine Fitzpatrick not making the Pro Bowl. I’m not sure how often a guy with five or more interceptions fails to make it, after all, but he’s not just a big-play guy, as discussed. He’s demonstrating the traits of a true centerfield safety, which is something that Steelers fans have been clamoring for for quite a long time.
And the beauty is that he’s not limited to just that role. Not dissimilar to Troy Polamalu, Fitzpatrick is a guy who they can move around the field, if they feel that it suits the play at the time. They haven’t done that a ton, perhaps in part because of just how much success he’s had in that role, but, again, the versatility is something to be excited about.