Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into 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 head toward training camp.
Player: Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Up
Cameron Sutton got a chance to work in with the first-team defense over the course of the final couple of OTAs, thanks to the absence of Artie Burns. He spent a bit of time practicing at that spot late last season, and he also had an opportunity to start a game on the other side of the field in place of Joe Haden when the veteran was injured.
Meanwhile, he has worked in the slot, and even at safety, over the course of the past few weeks, as he prepares himself to be able to fulfill any role that the coaching staff could ask of him. capable of playing both sides on the outside, in the slot, back at safety, and even in the dimebacker role, he is doing everything he can to put himself in position to get on the field in year two.
One wonders what might have happened if he didn’t have hamstring injuries during his rookie training camp, which kept him out for most of the time and even landed him on injured reserve. Would he have opened the season as the team’s nickel back over Mike Hilton if he had the opportunity to take those reps?
No matter, what’s done is done, and Sutton is only looking ahead to the future and how he can change it. He said that the coaching staff has worked on simplifying their defensive sets and communications, in part to allow them to play more aggressive defense in the secondary, which he feels is geared toward his skill set.
And he unsurprisingly also feels much more comfortable running around in the defense during his second season as he has had a full year and then some to absorb it. It’s only natural that he would see that sort of growth from his first offseason in a professional system to his second.
Still, I would not count on him being in an open competition for a starting job. Instead, I think he will have to settle on being the next man up, and seeing some work in dime packages. Maybe he gets some specialized work in the nickel based on matchups. Not ideal for Sutton, but potentially a good problem for the Steelers to have.