The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Cameron Sutton in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft at a time before they knew that they would later have the opportunity to acquire cornerback Joe Haden, let alone actually sign him. it was also before they went out and signed safety Morgan Burnett in free agency, or drafted Terrell Edmunds in the first round this year.
The team has really filled up the depth chart in the secondary, but they are still looking for a place to put Sutton, a player that they view was a bright riser. And the key to finding him a spot is the player and the team being on the same page about his need to be versatile.
According to Mike Prisuta, writing for the Steelers’ website, Sutton insisted on his title designation being defensive back. The Tennessee product spent time throughout OTAs and in minicamp working both outside and inside in the slot, and even took some reps working with the safeties as well.
Saying that he never wants to limit himself, he said that he never heard player saying that they play just one position, such as a wide receiver who is only an outside guy. Even if it is how their role ends up panning out, they always believe they can do more.
“The more you can do, the more opportunity you make for yourself, situations you can put yourself in to make plays and help the team be successful”, he said. “Football is football at the end of the day. Wherever they need me to line up, whatever’s going to help the defense be successful and get the ball back for our offense, that’s what matters”.
One thing that is really important to note is that the Steelers never installed their dime packages, or anything more nuanced than a basic nickel defense, throughout the spring, choosing to reserve those duties for training camp once they get to Latrobe in about a month.
That is when we will probably see Sutton take on an even more prominent role, and run snaps with the first-team personnel, as he figures to be a prime candidate to see snaps as a sixth defensive back, though he likely will also share that job with Edmunds depending upon the circumstances.
On his role, he said that it has basically been “kinda week by week, day by day, really. We have our signature stuff, everyone has their base, their nickel, their sub-packages. But those things kinda change week in and week out”.
When the regular season opens, Sutton will likely be the first cornerback off the bench for both the outside and inside positions. He started a game at left cornerback last year, ran with the first-team defense on the right side during practice while Artie Burns was out, and has been taking second-team reps in the slot. But he is always prepared to expand his resume beyond that.