Cameron Sutton was the cream of the crop at Tennessee—which is the case for most of the players who end up being drafted, even in the seventh round. A veteran starter for the Volunteers, he set a school record for passes defensed and was a team captain, one of the most respected members of the program.
He enters his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a former third-round draft choice, still fighting for a sub-package role in the secondary. While his playing time has ticked upward each year that he has been there, it has been almost entirely dependent upon injury.
This year, the team is more vocally and openly discussing his role as the dimebacker, a package that they have seemingly implied that they want to make greater use of, which means that he should see more consistent opportunities. That still falls short of what he really wants, which is a starting job.
While speaking to the media over the weekend, Sutton was asked about whether or not it gets frustrating having that versatility as sort of a cross to bear, as someone who wants to be out on the field starting.
“Obviously, being a competitor and wanting to be a consistent player out on the field, I wouldn’t say it gets frustrating, but, I guess you could say the way you approach it, just not having any care but just going out there and making plays and helping the defense”, he said.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that keeps that frustration, or the way I feel about anything, to a minimum. Just knowing that, being able to move around, being able to play multiple positions in the secondary, just having more ways of creating opportunities to get the ball back from our offense”.
For his career, Sutton has logged 618 defensive snaps, making two starts in 36 games. He has posted 43 tackles with two for loss, with a sack, a forced fumble, and two interceptions, including a game-sealing interception of Philip Rivers last season in Devlin Hodges’ first victory.
Since he was drafted, however, the Steelers have signed two starters at his position in free agency, first Joe Haden in the same season, and later, last year, Steven Nelson, both of whom are under contract for the next two years. His rookie contract, meanwhile, expires after this season as he enters unrestricted free agency.
How many snaps will he have played by then? What kind of resume will he have to present to other teams? If there are injuries this year, Sutton will be the first man up at any cornerback position, and frankly it’s rare that there aren’t injuries, so he could easily see a few hundred snaps.