Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, 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: Down
It’s been a while since I’ve done a stock update in which a player’s stock went down, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do one now, and I think it’s an appropriate one. With Artie Burns free falling last season, Cameron Sutton was primed to ascend, but that hasn’t carried over into this spring.
After Burns was demoted six games into the 2018 season, Sutton moved ahead of him, playing as the next man up. Sutton had already been the next man up, starting in Week Two when Joe Haden was out, but he ended up being passed himself by Coty Sensabaugh.
So when Sensabaugh began to start over Burns, not just rotating with him, it became Sutton who was coming off the bench for the former. Now Burns has been the next man up. With Haden getting some time off in OTAs, we know that the 2016 first-round pick was running with the first-team offense in his place.
While this shouldn’t be a surprise, it is confirmation. Burns would appear to have been benched at least in part for what the team viewed as being his own good as he was in crisis with his confidence. Playing him more could have done more harm than good if he continued to lose his battles.
The intention was to give him the offseason to get himself right, something he talked about yesterday himself. He knows he’s on his last life and if he doesn’t turn things around, he’s going to be looking to catch on with another team come September—or maybe even by tomorrow, in the worst-case scenario.
As for Sutton, he doesn’t really appear to be earmarked for any meaningful role this season, and if he ends up being Burns, he might even be a healthy scratch. Steven Nelson could serve as the backup nickel defender behind Mike Hilton in the event of an injury, with Burns moving into the starting lineup on the outside.
This is going to be a big training camp for the third-year cornerback out of Tennessee to show the coaching staff that he deserves a role, because right now it doesn’t look as though he has one, especially with Justin Layne preparing to ascend the depth chart in time as well.