I can’t speak directly for them, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Pittsburgh Steelers would have liked to have added a defensive back earlier than at 94th-overall, their natural third-round pick, and I suspect that they would have had the value at their natural selections in the first two rounds dictated that as a possibility.
But they did come away with four-year starting Tennessee cornerback Cameron Sutton in the third round, who recorded seven interceptions and 30 passes defensed in 44 games, with one returned for a touchdown, forcing three fumbles.
While he primarily played outside in college, he has played and projects to play in the nickel for the Steelers. While he has decent height at half and inch shy of six feet, he is a bit light without the biggest hands or longest arms.
The main reason that he projects inside for the Steelers, in my opinion, however, is because of his football intelligence and his ability to communicate. Aside from the fact that he majored in Communications, he is a vocal presence and a leader, qualities that he hopes to bring with him to Pittsburgh.
During his press conference after the pic, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake told reporters that the
Steelers “generally drafted guys in the secondary that have been a big part of the communication on defense”, and Sutton is a player who can do that”.
“I think people gravitated to Ike, probably the last corner that had a significant impact at least in my room”, he said of Ike Taylor, who has been retired for the past few seasons. William Gay has been a critical part of the communication hub on defense in recent seasons.
“Versatility in a defensive back is something you always should look for, the ability to be able to call any defense and the defensive back should be able to draw upon his skills to be able to handle that”, Lake said. “I think that just comes with drafting the right guys. I think this is a good attempt, especially in the third round, of getting someone who can help us do that”.
As mentioned, Sutton was a leader at Tennessee, a captain, and he believes he can do that at the next level. “If Cameron can prove it on the field just on his play alone they’ll gravitate toward him”, Lake said. “If he thinks of himself as a leader, he probably takes pride in his preparation and his communication skills, so that’s always helpful in the secondary”.
Obviously, there are other things to like about Sutton, and we’ll get to that more and more over the course of the next several months. Lake also talked about how his press coverage skills are a big component of why they targeted him. But football intelligence and communication ability will help him accelerate his path to playing time in the slot more than anything.