Expect Cam Sutton’s 2020 role to be similar to the one he held for most of 2019. Speaking to media yesterday, DC Keith Butler outlined what he’s expecting for Sutton this season.
“Cam [Sutton] is a very smart young man, and we’re going to use him in the sub-packages, especially in passing situations. On third downs we are going to have him in the game quite a bit, and maybe in passing situations more so than running situations.”
Translation? Sutton will be used in the Steelers’ dime package, primarily employed on 3rd and 6+ and/or in two minute situations. Of his 239 snaps a year ago, he was used in a 6 DB grouping 72.8% of the time. The other snaps came in the team’s nickel grouping early in the season, when they were replacing Mike Hilton in the slot with him. Mid-way through the year, they wised up and put both men on the field, taking off the struggling Kameron Kelly.
Sutton had a breakout year in 2019 and it was evident early. Our training camp recap of him was glowing and saw improvements in his physicality and tackling.
“One of the most impressive players in all of camp, he’s grown in every area of his game. Run defense and physicality are the top two aspects of his game where he’s improved. Seeing a much more impactful hitter. He’s gotten work in dime packages, first as the dimebacker, then in the slot replacing Mike Hilton. Valuable depth and I think he’s turned the corner. Hard to know exactly how much he will play and in what packages but when he’s out there, he shouldn’t be a liability. Really impressive summer.
Camp Grade: A“
All things that carried over into the regular season. He finished the year with 16 tackles, five pass breakups, and one interception, but his play was even better than what the box score indicates. Butler discussed the traits that make Sutton a valuable sub-package player.
“We feel like he is better in those types of situations because he is athletic, he is very smart. Very few times are you going to see him out of place when he is in coverage. We are kind of excited about that and how he is going to play for us in passing situations.”
The elephant in the room is the contract status of Sutton and Hilton. Both are entering the final year of their contract and given the looming cap crunch – and even before it – it’s all but certain both guys won’t return. If one is retained, it could be Sutton, likely to be the cheaper option compared to Hilton. By 2021, Sutton could be the full-time slot corner.