I’m sure many are wondering about Cameron Sutton and how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie third-round draft pick fared during the first playing time of his career on Monday night, thrown into the game during the second half after Coty Sensabaugh struggled.
When it comes to evaluating secondary play and deciphering coverages, this is something I acknowledge as something outside of my expertise, so I don’t always spend a lot of time covering the cornerbacks especially, but I know there is a lot of interest in Sutton right now, who could see more playing time and possibly even start on Sunday.
We might as well take a look at the first play of his career, as he was targeted on it, Andy Dalton looking in A.J. Green’s direction. The rookie had one-on-one coverage with the six-time Pro Bowler, looking to come back to the ball, but Sutton was able to break on the ball and get a hand on it, breaking up the pass. Something he was known for in college.
He was quite fortunate that his worst snap didn’t count, because if so, it would have docked him a 61-yard touchdown and a missed tackle to boot. But it’s clear that something was amiss in coverage. Sutton played as though he expected help from Robert Golden over the top, who bit on a crossing route underneath instead.
The lone reception that he did give up came a short time later, on third and 16, when Dalton hit him over the top to Barndon LaFell for 27 yards. The way he played the ball again looks like he’s clearly expecting help over the top that he’s not getting, but the Bengals stressed the defense with three verticals to the right side.
I still don’t know how this wasn’t a sack, but the coverage is why Daltn was never able to complete a pass here, and Sutton was a part of that. his initial coverage on the outside was good, and then he watched the quarterback for where to help.
Here, late in the game, Sutton was able to help reroute Green moving from the outside to over the middle before turning and getting to his coverage on the outside. The result was an incomplete pass targeting Green.
On the late sack that completed a three-and-out and led to the game-winning drive, it was, again, coverage that largely made it happen, and Sutton had control of Green down the right sideline, doing well to stay in phase after jamming at the line.
Considering it was his first taste of the NFL, I thought Sutton handled himself reasonably well, with some coverage lapses to address with the whole unit. Getting a week with some snaps in the starting lineup could help.