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: Before shockingly and stunningly not being traded after posting an emoji in his Instagram story last night, Cameron Sutton played perhaps the best game of his career filling in for Mike Hilton in the nickel this past Sunday.
Do you remember where you were the night you learned Cameron Sutton posted an emoji on social media and said ‘stay tuned’, just a week before the trade deadline? What a harrowing seven seconds that was.
Anyway, Sutton isn’t going anywhere until at least March—it would be stupid, by the way, to trade your backup nickel back while your starting nickel is injured and missing practice—and that’s a good thing for the 2020 defense, because he has given them a high-quality dime option who is among their strongest man-coverage defenders.
The thing one wonders about him is how good he could actually be with a bigger opportunity. He has always had other players ahead of him. Hilton emerged as a first-year player right underneath his feet while he was dealing with an injury for most of his rookie season. They signed Joe Haden that August. Last year, with the Artie Burns experiment over, they signed Steven Nelson instead.
Now he is in the final year of his rookie contract, and while he finally has a defined role in the dime, and is the top backup to all three cornerback positions, everybody should know that he wants an opportunity for more. He wants to be a starter. I have no doubt that he believes in his ability to do that.
And what he has done on the field gives him reason to believe. He had two passes defensed on Sunday and made a couple of key stops in the passing game as well. Whether or not Hilton will remain out against the Baltimore Ravens remains to be seen, but if he is, the Steelers know that Sutton can handle the nickel job.