Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU’s Bishop making the most of his opportunity as an undrafted player in Steelers minicamp

MORGANTOWN — Undrafted players get no guarantees in the NFL — they have to work for everything they get in the league. 

For former WVU cornerback Beanie Bishop, that’s just fine.

Bishop signed as an undrafted free agent with Pittsburgh following the 2024 NFL Draft in April and is going through minicamp with the Steelers this week.

“I’m still learning and just trying to take advantage of my opportunity,” said Bishop, a consensus All-American with the Mountaineers last season. “If a couple guys are out, I’ve been in the rotation and coaches have kind of been testing me to see how well I’m retaining the playbook and adjustments and things like that.”

Bishop, who led the country with 20 pass break-ups during his lone season in Morgantown, is transitioning into a slot cornerback in the pros. Although the team is still just in shorts, he’s impressed some coaches early on in camp.

“Beanie in the slot’s been good,” Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He’s learning, just like most young guys, so there’s a curve there. There are going to be some things he’s good at and some things he’s not so good at. But his mentality is good, his work ethic is good and he’s a sharp kid, so he’s taken to that.”

Bishop told Pittsburgh media on Wednesday that he signed with the Steelers in part because slot cornerback is one of the team’s biggest needs, but also because of the organization’s strong history of developing undrafted players.

“Especially given the background of the organization and the history of the undrafted guys they have here,” Bishop said. “(Former Steeler) Mike Hilton is kind of the prototype for the slot here and I go and watch some of his tape and stuff like that to see how they want the nickel to play here.”

Hilton started his career as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers and eventually signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Bishop said he’s been instructed to watch Hilton’s tape to learn how the Steelers want their slot cornerbacks to play.

“I think I’m doing pretty well,” Bishop said of his first week of practice. “Every day is still a learning opportunity. The game is to try not to make the same mistake twice, so that’s what I’m trying not to do. 

“I feel once I learn the playbook, I just go out there and play fast and play hard. You don’t really have to explain yourself to people, you just have to put it on tape.”

The real challenge as an undrafted player is hanging on with a team through the various rounds of cuts throughout the summer. After minicamp, the Steelers will start training camp proper on July 25. 

Predictably, the soft-spoken Bishop isn’t worrying about any of that yet. He’s just thankful for the opportunity he has right now.

“I’m a physical guy, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m hard-nosed, don’t really say much. I just get to it, work hard and punch guys in the mouth.”

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Zach Frazier (54) runs a drill during the team’s NFL rookie mini-camp football practice in Pittsburgh, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo)

Frazier Signs Rookie Deal

Former WVU center Zach Frazier was the last of the Steelers’ 2024 draft class to sign his rookie contract, inking the four-year deal on Monday.

“I wasn’t really too worried about it,” Frazier said this week. “My agent texted me (Monday) morning and said it was done. It wasn’t a big deal for me. I’m happy that it’s done.”

People have penciled Frazier in as the Steelers’ starting center ever since Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round in April. He’s working with fellow rookie linemen Troy Fautanu (first round) and Mason McCormick (fourth) to earn starting roles this summer.

“We’re all just working together,” Frazier said. “We’re all going through it together, learning everything we can as quickly as possible and working as hard as we can to fix our mistakes.”

New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is installing his offense this summer, putting everyone on that side of the ball in about the same place in terms of learning the new system.

“I just like how there’s an emphasis on running the ball — I like that as an offensive lineman,” Frazier said of Smith’s offense. “I don’t know what the expectation is, but I feel like we have a good group of guys and I feel like we’re picking it up pretty quick.”

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