Championship rosters need talent at the top, without question. Just look at the list of the past however many Super Bowl champions and see who was playing a quarterback, for example. But championship rosters are also built from the bottom up with unselfish players who are willing to do whatever is necessary from the team’s perspective to help the group succeed as a whole.
That is who Pittsburgh Steelers sixth-round rookie draft pick Sutton Smith wants to be. An undersized college defensive end, Smith was drafted to play outside linebacker in the team’s 3-4 defense, with an eye toward possibly playing inside as well if that doesn’t work out. Yet during the first week of OTAs, they even had him lining up at fullback.
“Just the more that I can do, the better”, he said, which I’m sure Head Coach Mike Tomlin amply informed him of. The more hats you can wear, the more useful you’ll be. “Whatever Coach Tomlin needs, anything really, I’ll be there”, the Northern Illinois product said.
One thing he’s pretty much going to have to do without question to make the roster is to work on Danny Smith’s special teams units, a fact of which he is well aware. Whether he plays outside or inside or even at fullback, any of those positions would require him to contribute in the third phase of the game as well.
“I told everyone I wasn’t a selfish player. Whatever I’ve got to do to be able to be a part of this program and team and just be successful and help the unit. That’s my goal”, Smith said while being interviewed last week for the team’s website about his first week of practice with the full squad.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I’ll do whatever they ask. It’s just, we’ve got to learn it and move forward from it”, he went on, adding, “like I said, I’m not a selfish player. I’d like to do whatever they need”.
These are the sorts of players whose names are not going to be known outside of the home city in which they play, but the diehard fans might know them quite well. The guys who are willing to do anything for the sake of the betterment of the team. That’s a pretty easy concept to root for, after all.
Of course, if he actually develops into the position for which he was drafted, namely getting after the quarterback, the Steelers will find ways to get him on the field in the long run. on defense, there isn’t anything more valuable than the man who can put the quarterback on his back. But unless or until he shows himself to be that guy, he could be wearing a lot of different hats, so an unselfish attitude is just what the job calls for.