2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Tennessee CB Cameron Sutton

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to examine as many prospects as possible and showcase both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#23 Cameron Sutton/CB Tennessee: 5’11 182

The Good

– Fluid athlete, quick feet and turn, with good-enough speed
– Shows burst acceleration in turn and in the return game
– Physical, plays bigger than his size, and does well to jam receiver in press man
– Shows strong ability to recover when he’s beat, works hard to get back to inside hip of the receiver, and technique to read the receivers eyes/hands, play the pocket, and break the ball up (good ball skills)
– Impressive punt returner, quick decision maker and gets upfield with great burst, threat in the open field
– Does well to get square to and under each punt, fields the ball cleanly, no bobbles/double-catches
– Versatile, can wear multiple hats
– Shows high football IQ and ability to handle new information on te fly
– Tons of starting experience at a high level of competition

The Bad

– Average size, needs to add weight and arm length is poor (29 ¼ arm, 72 ½ wing), likely not a fit for press man defenses
– Needs to treat run game like the pass, play more aggressively, and fight harder off
– Seemingly not around the football much in his career, limited amount of tackles
– Will gamble and can get beat by double-moves

Bio

– 45 career starts, became starter immediately as a true freshman
– Career: 127 tackles, 30 pass breakups, 7 INTs
– 2016: 23 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT (seven games)
– 45 career PRs, 14.6 average, 3 career TDs (2 in 2015)
– Fractured right ankle during senior season, missed seven games, but returned to finish out the year

Tape Breakdown

Sutton was a guy I watched prior to the Senior Bowl but I liked him more leaving Mobile than I did coming down there. If for nothing else, his versatility, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

He’s not a big guy but he plays big and physical in press at the line of scrimmage. Sort of a tough sell because he’s not a big guy, and his length is really poor, but it’s the same as Ross Cockrell, who has rolled up before in coverage. For other teams, who really covert length, it may change the evaluation.

His best trait, by far, are his ball skills. Solid in coverage and plays catch points really well. Has good ball skills, that is, the ability to track and make a play on the football, separate from just interceptions (hands).

Great job to get over top this rub route against Alabama and close on the slant against Calvin Ridley, Bama’s top weapon, jam his hand into the receiver’s chest, and disrupt it enough to knock the ball out.

Even when he’s beat, he shows the technique and recovery to still make a play. Stop ‘n go where the receiver beats him clean. But Sutton stays in-phase, gets to the hip of the receivers, reads the body language to know when the ball will be there, and plays the pocket at the end with a hard swipe down and through, breaking the pass up.

Sure, the pass was a bit underthrown but making a play is making a play. And Sutton made a play.

As aggressive and talented Sutton is against the pass, I wish I saw the same against the run. Doesn’t seem to embrace it as much; not that he’s terrible, but he’s much more passive.

I know this is against Derrick Henry, and he made many a college defensive back look silly, but Sutton gets run over and through here. He is wearing #7 from his junior season.

Or here, a better representation of what I’m talking about. For an aggressive guy in coverage, I’d love for him to stick his face into the fan at the end of this wide receiver screen. No need to back off. That’s some Cockrell-esque stuff.

To the versatility. Sutton has a strong punt returners background, as highlighted in our bio, but in Pittsburgh, that may not mean much. At the Senior Bowl, he played a lot of safety, something he hadn’t done at Tennessee. But he did well and looked natural at the position, taking good angles to the football in his zone turn and showing an all-around high football IQ. Coaches gave him a lot of praise.

Sutton is probably a better fit to stay at cornerback than moving to safety because his run defense is questionable. Don’t have complete confidence in his run fit ability, consistency in coming up to support the run. But that’s a possibility down the road after coaches work with him and round his game out.

The only issue here is an unlikeliness he’ll contribute right away. The outside spots are locked up, making it tough for Sutton to see playtime. But he’s someone the Steelers have met with, like, and he has long-term value. Sutton will probably be linked to the team in mocks by myself and others throughout the process.

Projection: Early Day Two

Games Watched: vs Alabama (2015), vs Vanderbilt (2015), vs Virginia Tech, Senior Bowl

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon Mack

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    solid second pick for us.

  • Steelers12

    i like Kazee better out of San Diego State

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    This sounds great!! A smurf sized CB who has short arms and isn’t good against the run!? 😀
    The only question is “Can he line up 10 yards off the receiver in coverage?”!!

  • Alex Kozora

    If he can, 1st round pick, here we come!

  • steelburg

    I wouldn’t take him in the 2nd round. The more I see and learn of him the more I’m not impressed by him. Sutton is kind of sliding down my board. I would take Chidobe Awuzie in the 2nd over Sutton. Sutton just got a B.W Webb comparison from one of the guys who does the scouting reports.

  • Clutterbox

    Nice write up. Are you planning to have a 2017 nfl draft section? It would be nice have a section, link, etc with all the player profile in 1 area.

  • Jake Caruso

    5’11” is hardly smurf sized.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Right. But 182#s is.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Alex just a suggestion…….
    Perhaps there is a article in discussing how/if the Steelers could/should ditch the ‘same hemisphere’ Zone D for press/man and the personnel required to facilitate that?
    I am pretty certain I am not the only Steelers fan interested in our ability to do this?

  • Alex Kozora

    I think I’ve written about a lot of that before. And I don’t totally agree the Steelers need to become this uber man heavy scheme.

  • Alex Kozora

    All the player profiles are in links in the table at the very end of the report.

  • VinHuddle

    Kinda agree with ya but a third would be even better imo.

  • Daniel

    I like lewis Michigan better

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I’m pretty faithful in reading the site but must have missed it.
    Seems to me that the ideal is to be capable of playing both, but man seeing a pic of the Pats WR split out, and we can’t even SEE our CB in the picture on TV?
    Surely NONE of us feel that is adequate.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Derek Rivers when you get a chance

  • thomas hmmmm

    Seems like he would make a good slot CB than outside.

  • PaeperCup

    yessir. With Gay fizzling out, and a big “?” for Golson I think that’s the position worth targeting.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Id pass on him. And Tennessee was a funny team, they looked like a good team at times but didn’t hold up against the good teams. I guess they played a lot of cream puffs.

  • LucasY59

    Lewis is obviously my favorite slot prospect, but guys like Sutton, Kazee and Des King are options in case they arent able to get Jourdan (even though the team has Gay and Golson I think adding another player capable of playing the slot is important, especially when Nickel is played more than Base D) I like that Sutton (and maybe King) could even be possibilities as Safety depth (versatility is useful especially for a player that isnt going to have a set starting position, although like I already said a Nickel corner plays close to Starter snaps already)

  • John Pennington

    Sutton has alot of skills but his tackling and weak against the run makes me worry about him.We had enough missed tackles last year by the secondary don’t need another person who can’t tackle or stands around watching other people do the work.The Steelers need players who are tough will hit cover and tackle in the secondary nothing else will do.Plus Cockrell needs to work on his tackling skills along with Burns can’t be scared in this game.Getting paid to do a job not some of the job.

  • Ike Evans

    Ive loved this kid for 2 years…..when everyone was talkin about mackenzie from clemson and all those guys….i was bangin the table for him as a young player…..i agree with alex…he prolly wont see the field much with us that first year cuz hes better on the outside but he is positon flexible tho

  • TroymanianDevil

    He’s 8 pounds lighter than Malcolm Butler. Adding 10lbs can be achieved in an offseason pretty easily

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Kazee could play outside or slot which would make him more valuable in my book plus he can tackle for his smaller size.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Unless we are not happy with Cockrell not sure I would want to go 2nd round cornerback…3rd round would be the earliest for me.

  • Steelers12

    yes and we need all those things

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Why wait for him if someone else is already good to go?
    And what if the extra weight slows him down?
    Picking him with our 2nd round pick would be roughly a round too early.

  • Jason Vancil

    The more I watch College tape the more CB’s I see who make “business decisions” in run support. It can be frustrating in prospects who otherwise I really like.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Sure, if that guy is there then take him but those guys all go in the first round.

    Adding muscle won’t slow anyone down, fat slows people down. And most of the added muscle would be in his legs, so he could potentially get faster.

    Never advocated picking him at all. Just saying don’t knock him b/c of his size. I somewhat agree that 2nd round seems early (I’m knocking him a little for run support) but I’m not a paid full-time scout. More like a part-time armchair scout. If he’s good, then 2nd round is fine..that will be the ultimate judgement, obviously. My bigger point was that his size is fine.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’ve liked Sutton since last year when I watched his tape. I’d be ecstatic if we got him on day 2.

  • Ryan Poster

    Tennessee Vol fan here. I liked your write up of Sutton and agree with most your points. I thought I would point one thing about him after having watched Sutton over the last 4 years.While he is not the best at helping out in the run game, that doesn’t mean he is a poor tackler, he does excel at sniffing out bubble screens and blowing them up. I have watched him multiple times shed a blocker and completely stop a screen before it even makes it back to the LOS.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’m ecstatic!

  • NCSteel

    you’re right.
    about the fat slowing people down part.
    I have personal knowledge of this.

  • Jason

    Gotta say. Well done.

  • Reezy

    That Bama tape looks awful…

  • Kevin Schwartz

    “Sutton has a strong punt returners background, as highlighted in our bio, but in Pittsburgh, that may not mean much.” Not sure I get why the author made this statement. It seems like part of his appeal is his kick returning skills.

  • Don

    As predicted

  • Alex Kozora

    Because of Tomlin’s defiance in using defensive players in the return game.

  • John Pennington

    He can cover but cant tackle wont help the team in the run game at all.Needs someone to get in his ear right away about his tackling and stepping to the side not helping out against the run.He needs to get stronger.

  • Kevin Schwartz

    Interesting. You really don’t think he’ll use him? I know I’m repeating myself, but I assumed that was one of the reasons we drafted him.

  • Dr. Bacon

    What I look for in these breakdowns is if “the Bad” is coachable. All of his “bad” is coachable. I like this pick at the spot.

  • PaeperCup

    Dang missed Lewis by 2 spots. I wonder if the Steelers were considering him at all at that position.

  • PaeperCup

    lol, kept your word. Good man.

  • Luke Edgerley

    much rather have had kazee or rasul douglas was still on the board absolute shame he wasn’t drafted . I also hope I am wrong about juju but godwin taywon taylor or carlos henderson would have been far better choices . I trust kevin colbert’s judgement and hope for all the world he is right but passing on the above guys and eveb perine for james conner seems to be a multitude of reaches.

  • Conserv_58

    That then goes against a long standing axiom. That being, “We will put the best players on the field that give us the best chance of winning.” Well, if a defensive player has the ability to be a valuable asset in the kick return game and Tomlin refuses to utilize that ability because said player is on the defense then that makes, Tomlin a lying hypocrite.

  • The Truth

    And will that added weight make him slower? He doesn’t appear to be a weight room type guy either.

  • Conserv_58

    The biggest knock on Cockerall is that he’s not versatile enough to be a good press coverage CB. That inability to be versatile in press coverage as well as zone leads me to believe why Cockerall hasn’t been signed to a long term contract.

    Listen to Carnell Lake’s interview and hear him tell us about Sutton’s ability to both play man and zone. Carnell said that versatility is key and it will allow Sutton to see the field sooner than later.

  • Conserv_58

    These guys are still very young and have yet to fill out their frames to what I call, their man look. Everything about this kid is coachable and can be improved upon, even his speed. What he does have is good intelligence which allows him to excell at read and recognition. He does a really good job of reading, recognizing, tracking the ball and anticipating where the ball is going to be. He doesn’t just play the receiver. He plays the ball which is what coaches look for.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i cant believe over 30 db’s were taken by 62.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    we have a good one of those who has been improving over last 3 years. jordan dangerfield.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    probably not. lewis has domestic abuse casse ongoing.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    nahh. as far as slot. this training camp will be between gay sensabaugh and golson. sutton should compete as a backup to cockrell.

  • Ichabod

    now I’m depressed!

  • disqus_WrRvUyG2DA

    Lets see if this guy even makes the team.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    We should be depressed!! In a historically deep DB class, we emerge with Cam Sutton !!!!!

  • Carl Mendelius

    Sutton struggles with man coverage!!! More zone zone zone!!! Colbert and Tomlin will never learn to adapt to reality.

  • Ichabod

    Agree. I’m hoping they have some special plan they are following, as opposed to “dropping the ball” They did sign Cockrell after the draft so maybe they will look to do the same.

  • westcoasteeler

    Yeah, you’d think even tho we won’t stray too far from playing zone, that we’d give ourselves some versatility in the Def backfield.

  • Delboka

    After looking at highlights and reading up on him, this isnprobably my least favorite pick.

    There was a different feel about Davis and even Golson.

    Not very impressed with this selection.

    Conor will be a beast.

  • Delboka

    Is there another DB you wouldve taken that was available?

    I did not know much of the secondary talent that was left.

  • Edjhjr

    So they don’t know if Bryant, or Coates will be around and took the receiver.

    Harrison will be done and Jones is out so they took the LB.

    They have needed CB’s, forever so they took one.

    Looks fairly predictable.

  • Bastiat

    I’m on the West Coast and watched a lot of USC football the past few years. I realize people aren’t thrilled with our 2nd round selection but I do believe after the preseason the fan base is going to love Juju. The kid is going to make plays in the slot and he has fantastic hands. But the best part about his game is his tenacity, he is 100% effort all the time. He is Hines Ward 2.0 and I believe Colbert and company picked him believing this.

  • TroymanianDevil

    haha oh man, this was from 3 months ago, had to refresh my memory here.

    No it won’t if done right. Martavis added 20 pounds in this past year and his 40 time went down from 4.4 to 4.3.
    Idk how you can say things about his personality, do you know him? Or a huge Tenn fan? And even if he’s not right now, he can certainly change that.

  • The Truth

    What did I say about his personality?

    There is no proof Bryant’s speed increased. Some guy timing him on an iPhone is not proof.

    “Adding muscle won’t slow anyone down”

    Huh? Adding any kind of extra weight can slow you down. Just because it’s muscle doesn’t mean it won’t slow you down.

    His highlight reels etc… don’t show much promise.

    All remains to be seen. Hoping for the best.

  • TroymanianDevil

    You said he doesn’t seem like a weight room guy.

    His speed has definitely increased. sure it was hand timed, that’s why I didn’t say 4.27 which is considerably faster than his official 4.42 from the combine/pro day numbers. No amount of hand timing will be that off, the typical variance is .05 max

    Yes, adding lean muscle will not slow an athlete down. What your saying is like a saying a car won’t be faster by putting a bigger engine b/c that’s more weight. You trim weight in cars in other areas, you add engine power ( to a certain point of course). And similarly in an athlete, you trim fat. The lean muscle helps your athleticism in all ways. At some point you would “max out” your frame and after that point you can’t really add any lean muscle, you can’t just keep adding lean muscle until you’re 300lbs ( for a DB ) . So maybe that’s what is confusing you. But he’s definitely not there and hence why 10 lbs of muscle will help tremendously.
    That’s how AB has added weight but gotten faster and more explosive since being drafted. Also that’s why you’ll always hear people talking about adding weight. Adding weight just to add weight is terrible for an athlete. There’s an implied “lean muscle weight” that supposed to be added b/c you’ll be better in all ways if it’s lean muscle. If you don’t believe me, or just want more info, google it, it’s a pretty well established.

    About his highlights, never said he was the guy. In fact I soured on drafting him after watching him, not b/c he’s bad, just other guys I like more. My whole thing on him, even 3 months ago was that he’s not small or short.

    And now that he’s been drafted, we can all agree on that last statement, hoping for the best

  • TroymanianDevil

    haha I actually lol’ed reading this

  • TroymanianDevil

    for sure, he’s got a lot of good things going for him. I’m excited to see what he’s got. It’s interesting reading comments from 3 months ago, unbiased. And thankfully it still holds up, b/c now that he’s a Steeler, I think he’s the next Deion Sanders and I won’t back down on that