The Pittsburgh Steelers, no doubt, knew exactly what they were doing when they signed Cameron Sutton to a two-year contract—knowing that Mike Hilton would not be coming back. Sutton, a third-round draft choice in 2017, has never had a defined role in the defense, but that will change going forward.
Though he figures to become the Steelers’ primary slot defender this season, replacing the departed Hilton, Sutton values the versatility that he was allowed to build over the course of the past four years—and also made it clear during a SiriusXM interview earlier this week after signing that he knows it will continue.
“That’s just not the card I was dealt at the time”, he said about having ever had the chance to have a defined role early on in his career. “So I was able to learn playing inside, learn playing outside, learn playing time, learn playing safety. And that all comes full circle, because in some form or fashion, as we’ve seen over four years, I’ve had to partake in those roles, and they’re only going to expand”.
“Getting my feet wet in those roles and having the comfortability of moving around in those roles already in my time alone—I’ve seen so much”, he went on. “I’ve seen so much of the game so far. I’m so excited. It gives you that pump, that adrenaline just to see what’s to come of it. Just very excited with what I know I can do and I will do for this organization”.
Especially in a defense like Pittsburgh, which is so predicated on its disguise both before and after the snap, it’s important for players to be able to play in a variety of roles. According to Pro Football Focus, Sutton played 276 snaps in the slot in 2020. He also played 206 snaps out wide, 93 in the box, 26 at free safety, and another 15 along the line.
That’s a lot of variety, of course much of it being chalked up to the fact that he was called upon to start multiple games in the slot and at left and right outside cornerback over the course of the season due to injuries and illnesses that copped up.
But really, the Steelers only have two slot-capable cornerbacks on the roster right now, with right outside starter Steven Nelson being the other one. They would probably like to add another slot-capable corner in the draft if possible, but with so many other needs and wants, it’s hard to say what will happen.