One of the players for the Pittsburgh Steelers who has been having a good camp and yet not getting a lot of attention just yet is third-year cornerback Cameron Sutton. Alex Kozora has routinely noted his ability to be around the ball consistently during his training camp reports, something that he was known for in college and now perhaps manifesting at the NFL level.
Sutton was the Steelers’ natural third-round draft choice in 2017, and he spent most of his rookie season on the shelf with a hamstring injury, lasting on the Reserve/Injured List until he was activated to the 53-man roster in late November. He has been given opportunity, but ultimately has been a bit disappointing overall, and is now looking for a role.
Perhaps there will be one for him somewhere this year, though that will be difficult to determine, with many roles already in place. So far, he has been functioning as the team’s primary dime defender, a role that he held briefly last season while Morgan Burnett was injured.
Said one of his position coaches, Teryl Austin, about him as he heads into his third season, “he is a very versatile guy. He can play. He’s done a really good job inside, he’s done a good job outside. He’s super smart. He’s got tremendous hands. And I think he’s really playing well right now”.
Sutton is actually the only draft pick from the first two days made by the Steelers that year who has yet to find major success. All three of the other players that they selected in the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft have already emerged as honored starters, with T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner all making the Pro Bowl. Conner was a compensatory pick.
As mentioned above, finding a role for him can be difficult, because most positions in the secondary have already been secured. Joe Haden is their number one cornerback, an free agent acquisition Steven Nelson figures to settle into the spot opposite him. Mike Hilton is in the slot, though may be the most vulnerable, while Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis are locked in at safety.
So where does Sutton fit in? “I think all that stuff will kind of shake out as we move forward and as guys get a chance to play in the preseason games it’ll shake down”, Austin said, adding, “but I have a lot of confidence in his ability to play multiple positions for us and I think that helps us”.
The Tennessee product initially looked to be on a rapid upward trajectory. Against a late-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, Coty Sensabaugh, starting for the injured Haden, was benched at halftime and replaced by Sutton as the Steelers came back to win.
A week later, Sutton started over Sensabaugh against the New England Patriots, and though he gave up a touchdown, he held his own. He entered the 2018 season as the primary backup, but after starting the Week Two game against the Kansas City Chiefs, he struggled a bit and Sensabaugh passed him over.