Lake: Sutton A Player With Whom Steelers ‘Able To Call Any Defense’

I think it’s safe to say that when Pittsburgh Steelers fans went to bed on Thursday night with visions of cornerbacks dancing in their heads, the name that they heard being announced was not Cameron Sutton. But that was the cornerback that they ended up taking with the 94th-overall selection during the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

With names as enticing as Chidobe Awuzie and Kevin King still on the board at the start of the day, it would be easy to understand the optimism. But even by their third-round pick, the likes of Shaquille Griffin, Fabian Moreau, and Quincy Wilson were gone—long gone in the case of the latter.

The introduction of Sutton into the cornerback room, however, is still an addition that will make the group better. It is especially his potential versatility that will be valuable, since he should be able to play both on the outside if necessary, but most likely in the slot, which is where the bigger concern is, more so short-term than immediate.

The Steelers played most of last season with William Gay, the veteran, utilizing the slot role to his advantage in zone coverages. He struggled in man, however, and that is where Sutton can be an important upgrade when Pittsburgh wants to use that technique.

But Gay is heading safely into the last couple of years of his career, I would expect, barring a move to safety. Senquez Golson is in danger at this point of not even making the roster, though of course the light will be left on for him if he can manage to hobble toward it on his busted foot.

Coty Sensabaugh is a one-year depth signing who is obviously not a long-term solution. But maybe Sutton can be. And even if he isn’t, long term, he can still represent an important versatile fixture who can step into multiple roles.

One of the things that the Steelers praised him for after they took him was the fact that he has football intelligence and is somebody whom they believe can function as an important hub of communication in their defense.

You probably shouldn’t need reminding, but communication is pretty important in case you’re blocking out the failures that have arisen in recent years due to that exact issue for the Steelers in the secondary, so somebody who can take control of that role is valuable.

I think versatility in a defensive back is something you always should look for, the ability to be able to call any defense and the defensive back should be able to draw upon his skills to be able to handle that”, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake said after the pick. “I think that just comes with drafting the right guys. I think this is a good attempt, especially in the third round, of getting someone who can help us do that”.

Sutton may not be the guy you wanted, but I do think he is a guy that can help, and the diversity of functions that he can be utilized to carry out only makes his potential value greater. He knows how to get his hands on the ball, even if he can improve in other areas.

Remember what I wrote yesterday, though. Kevin Colbert and his staff look for what players can do until they can’t find anything. They don’t look at what they can’t do because they know that players can grow. They’ve had some success growing some defensive backs just last year.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • will

    And guess what defense they call……..soft zone coverage.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    Maybe an important aspect with be returning punts and/or kickoffs. If he became nothing more than a very good returner and able to keep AB of of punt returns, this is a win. I do like this pick. A necessary pick for this team in many ways.

  • Paddy

    Maybe the Steelers need to lose 10 games this season so they get the kind of players people want in the draft. Seems to work for the rest of the division.

  • NCSteel

    Hey, high
    character
    guy with the ability to be versatile. Can’t go wrong, right ?
    Overall, the whole second day felt like kissing my sister. At least we will not have to worry about suspensions from any of these fellas. Listen, if we can get through Brady, thats the measuring stick, it has to be otherwise, well, otherwise your Cleveland.

  • Boots

    I’m trying not to overreact, but we had the deepest DB draft in 20 years in front of us and came away with drum roll please….Doran Grant II! AWESOME!

  • Gautama Om

    I think they thought WR depth was more important in the 2nd round and getting great value with Juju there than reaching (to them) for a CB. By the time we picked late in the 3rd , most of the “good” ones were gone. Also another gut feeling is I feel Ben might has banged the table before the draft for another offensive threat given how the NE game turned out.

    It hurts to pick at the bottom of each round. I wont argue with the players they picked (given where they picked them) BUT I do argue that since they had TWO 3rd rounders they should have used one of them to trade up (which we don’t even know if they tried to or not and failed if they did).

  • steeltown

    If he’s considered competition for Gay, Sensabaugh (and Golson) in the slot than I like this pick. It would appear Sutton and Sensabaugh can also play outside if necessary

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Is Golson even near being ‘healthy’, or who knows?

  • Aj Gentile

    Except Grant was more athletic

  • Boots

    More physical and a better tackler, too! But hey at least we know he’ll clear waivers when we “stash” him on the PS!!

  • Jim Foles

    does it matter?

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I give him no more than a 50-50 chance to even make it out of training camp ala Hawthorne,fredericks, Richardson etc.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Probably not. But since they just drafted another corner who has had injury problems for the slot CB spot, was curious.

  • Boots

    I certainly hope we are wrong but I’m just not seeing it right now

  • Steeler4l1f3

    Cam Sutton has produced since day 1 as a freshman. Same as JuJu. He is a solid athlete with good ball skills, good speed and high intelligence. Considering what was left at corner, I like the pick. This guy makes the roster.

    I have a problem with picking Connor in the 3rd when there was plenty of comparable players that would be around in the 4th or 5th.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The draft didn’t break well at all for them to get good value at defensive back, in my opinion. Multiple times there were runs right before they picked. It sucks, but it’s not surprising. Everybody else was looking to reap the rewards of the deep class too. The Cowboys taking Awuzie was a gut punch for me.

  • Jim Foles

    steelers will be shopping all the teams that drafted multiple S and cb’s ….
    you pick at 30 and you trade nothing, you have to rummage.

  • Boots

    My thing is the other teams that actually reaped the rewards were, for the most part, proactive. I usually am ok with the team taking a let it come to us approach, but I feel like with just a little maneuvering and draft management this could’ve helped a lot more.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah you can definitely make the argument that Colbert is too willing to sit and let the board come to him…but of course that’s an annual discussion. A lot of times it works, having the likes of DeCastro, Dupree, Watt, Shazier, Tuitt, etc. falling to them. Sometimes in hindsight you can say they would have been better off moving up (assuming, of course, that they could find a trading partner and that they actually liked the player you would want them to trade up for).