You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.
In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.
When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.
Topic: Who will play a bigger role on offense or defense sooner: wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, or cornerback Cameron Sutton?
When it comes to the Steelers’ 2017 rookie draft class, it would be hard to say that they are in a position to be as impactful as last year’s group, but then again, they no doubt played more than many expected that they would initially as well.
While it was clear that Javon Hargrave would have a chance to earn a starting role early, it was less obvious for their other young rookies. Fast forward a year, and it is not obvious that any of the team’s top three picks will have a starting job at the beginning, or even at the end, of their rookie year.
T.J. Watt, however, figures to play some, regardless of whether or not he enters the starting lineup. But what about JuJu Smith-Schuster, their second-round wide receiver, or Cameron Sutton, the cornerback in the third round?
It’s entirely and realistically possible that one or both of them begins the season as a starter. But it’s also entirely and realistically possible that neither of them are in the starting lineup by the end of their rookie season.
In Smith-Schuster’s case, his best chance of contributing as early as possible would figure to be through the slot, where he has been given a lot of work. Not that this is news, of course, but compare that to the amount of work that Sutton has gotten in the slot as a cornerback, which is where he would be most likely to start.
Of course, we haven’t even gotten to training camp, so there is plenty of time for things to change. Sutton is the more polished player of the two from a pure football player’s perspective, and has an excellent head for the game. One might also be inclined to think that the current starting slot receiver is better than the current starting slot corner, which would make it more likely for the latter to be replaced.
Which side do you lean closer toward?