Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: CB Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Cameron Sutton is on pace to play about 300 snaps on defense this season, the most in his career, and is also playing at the highest level that he has before, as the designated dime defender. He can likely expect a bigger role with Devin Bush out due to more dime defense being played.
It seemed for many early on that Cameron Sutton was the forgotten man of the 2017 NFL Draft class for the Steelers, with their other three picks in the first three rounds—T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner—all emerging as starters and having Pro Bowl seasons.
Sutton never earned a starting role during his time for the Steelers, but with his play on the field in the past year and a half, he may well earn a starting opportunity in free agency in March, as he will be an unrestricted free agent after this, his fourth season and the final year of his rookie contract. At least, he may be given the chance to compete for a starting job.
This season, for the first time in his career, he entered the season with a clearly defined role: the dime back. He has already played 94 snaps over five games in that role, and with Devin Bush lost for the season, it’s likely that the Steelers will play even more dime defense moving forward over the final 11 games of the season, plus the postseason.
That’s just more opportunities for him to put his tape out there and catch the eye of the professional scouts of the other 31 organizations in the league. He got himself an interception on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, so that’s a start.
According to Pro Football Focus, Sutton has only allowed five receptions on eight targets over 80 snaps in coverage this season, allowing 54 yards. They credit him with allowing one touchdown and one interception with an NFL rating allowed of 82.3. He has given up just 0.68 yards per coverage snap.