Tennessee DC Believes Sutton Will Be ‘An Excellent Slot Or Nickel Corner’ With Steelers

Even though he was only able to coach new Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton one year in college, Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop knows quite a bit about the team’s third-round draft pick. During a Tuesday interview with David Todd on ESPN 970, Shoop talked glowingly about Sutton the person as well as the player and how he thinks he’s a good fit with the Steelers.

Shoop opened with his thoughts on Sutton by saying that he recruited the cornerback while he was the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt.

“Part of the reason I came to Tennessee was I had recruited Cam hard out of high school,” Shoop recalled. “I recruited a couple of these defensive players hard and I knew that they were coming into their senior year. When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of this thing, I jumped at it because I knew how good these kids were and how they had built this thing up, and things along those lines.

“And unfortunately, Cam only really played a handful of games for us this year because he broke his ankle. To me, he’s a guy, who in 2013 as freshman, was thrown right into the mix and started right off the bat. And he wasn’t the most highly recruited guy. He was recruited for a lot of the same reasons he was drafted. Smart, unselfish, tough, versatile, all of those things and he found his way into the starting lineup.”

Shoop went on to say that when Sutton was fully healthy in 2013 and 2014 that he considered him to an “upper-level player” in all of college football at the time.

“I think everybody feels that way and even Kevin Colbert had mentioned that to me and went back and watched a lot of film on him,” Shoop said. “2015, he [Sutton] had some injuries, but he was still very, very solid and really excelled as well in the return game. I think of the 45 punts that he returned, I think he returned three for touchdowns and he was an All-American punt returner in 2015.

“In 2016, I had heard all this about him – this is when I got here – and in the spring I watched a guy who was like a five-year, ten-year veteran. He took impeccable notes in the meetings, he sat in the front row, he asked intelligent questions, he led the way and set the pace for the young players and was having a great spring. He would be the first one out to practice, he had a stretching routine, he had a routine off the JUGS machine, he’d work on his footwork by himself. He’d do all those things and he was on pace and on par to lead the way and help us become the type of team that we wanted to be this year.”

Shoop said Sutton’s broken ankle that he suffered during Tennessee’s third game of the season ultimately sidelined the cornerback for a while but that he chose to press on and make it back for the end of the season even though he wasn’t fully healthy.

“A lesser person, or a lesser player might have just said, ‘Listen, I’m going to get ready for the Senior Bowl, I’m going to get ready for the combine.’ But he battled his way back and probably played at about 70 percent the last couple of games,” Shoop said. “He played against Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt and then the bowl game and really, I just feel horrible, because I feel like he was not certainly at 100 percent but gave maximum effort and just him being out there provided leadership and guidance, and really helped some of our young players through some adversity.”

Shoop says Sutton being a three-sport player in high school shows on the field and he went on talk more about what his former player excels at and how he thinks he’s a great fit with the Steelers.

“He’s got good quickness, he’s got good size. Not necessarily long, but he does have good size and he’s got really strong upper, upper level ball skills,” Shoop said of Sutton, who recorded seven interceptions during his college career at Tennessee. “I think the versatility piece is not being overplayed here. Here’s a guy who thinks he can play corner, at the Senior Bowl volunteered to play nickel or safety.

“He’s got the football intelligence to play any of those positions. He’s a good tackler, not a great tackler, but he gets you down and in today’s day and age that’s what corners need to do, get you down. He can play bump and run, he can play the off technique, he can re-route. He can blitz as a corner, he can blitz as a nickel and I went back after the draft and watched a little bit of the Steelers film, he really fits, to me, what they look for and what they ask their corners to do.”

Shoop also relayed an interesting pre-draft story to Todd concerning the Steelers dealings with Sutton when they went to Tennessee to talk to him.

“I think the thing that sold Coach Tomlin and Kevin Colbert about him was when they came here – this is really a cool story – they did an interview with him where they sat down and said, ‘Put on a game film and talk about your responsibilities,'” Shoop said. “And he [Sutton] put on our Appalachian State film, because it was the first game of the year and one of our games he played in, and he went through the first 15 plays and not only gave his responsibility and alignment, but he gave everybody on the defense.

“And they went, ‘Alright.’ And as Kevin tells the story, he went, ‘Alright, alright, you knew we were going to ask that.’ He goes, ‘Let me pick the game, let me pick it,’ and Kevin picked and he [Sutton] went and did the exact same thing. And I texted both Kevin and Mike right after they drafted him and said, ‘Great pick’ and they both said, ‘Love this kid. He’s going to be a great pro.’ And so, hes special and the same as Josh [Dobbs], their character, their toughness, their football intelligence and their athletic ability are going to help them be pro football players for a long time.”

While Sutton played primarily on the left side and outside during his career at Tennessee, Shoop doesn’t think that will be a problem for Sutton at the NFL level.

“With some people it makes a difference,” Shoop started. “In college, the field’s a little bit different than the NFL so sometimes more boundary than field where in the NFL it’s either left or right, or you match a corner with a particular guy. Cam’s intelligent enough and versatile enough to do any of those things. We did not use him as the nickel, we used another player as the nickel, because he was so valuable to us on the outside. But he can and has played the nickel before I got here and I think he would actually be an excellent slot or nickel corner. I think he could match up really well on slot guys, because he does have good short-area quickness and can do those type of things.”

You can hear Shoop’s entire interview with Todd below.

  • Matt Manzo

    Awesome! I like the fact that the interview was after the draft.

  • Crowned

    Great in film study, hard worker, first one on the practice field. Sounds like a great pick.

  • barry foster

    he had a first round grade last year could be a steal

  • The Truth

    “He’s a good tackler, not a great tackler”

    He is not a good tackler either.

    “He can play bump and run”

    From the NFL combine — Too passive in press coverage, failing to land solid hands that slow opponent or redirect their routes. Unreliable in run support with too many side-swipe, grab-and-drag attempts.

  • 3ghost

    I’m a believer. I think Sutton can really help sure up our secondary.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Loved it!

  • Jaybird

    Ouch! “The Truth” hurts.

  • Ryan Alderman

    What a great breakdown!! Got me pretty excited about this kid!!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Is he wearing 23?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong?
    The Dude: No you’re not wrong.
    Walter Sobchak: Am I wrong???
    The Dude: You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an a**hole.
    Walter Sobchak: Okay then.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Brain fart. Mitchell wears 23.

  • Josh Gustad

    What is he supposed to say? “Eh I think he’ll be alright.” Of course he’s gonna display confidence in his former players.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Will be starting opp burns at the end of the season.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Donny!! You’re out of your element!!

  • StarSpangledSteeler


    Great article. Very good insights.

    If you match Sutton up on Amendola or Edelman I think he’ll do okay. Just don’t put him on Brandin Cooks.

  • GoSteelerz

    Still have my concerns about him as a tackler, but maybe injuries played a part? Maybe being in Pittsburgh will help him overcome that. If he and Brian Allen, who also needs to work on tackling, get together and really work at it, maybe he becomes more well rounded and becomes a good pro. I hope he does, we need a good tackling secondary to help us get to championship level.

  • Derick L Young

    Ike Taylor was projected 5th-6th round.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Keep seeing the same recurring traits on these picks. Intelligent high character guys that perform at a high level. Let hope that translates to the NFL game.

  • Ken Krampert

    It seems pretty hard to find a coach, scout or personnel guy that has a bad thing to say about this guy. Only arm chair douchebags. I like his tape, combine (which I re watched today) and his evals. I like the pick.

  • Brenton deed

    A little aside: a lot of people would havepreferred that the Steelers give up their fifth round pick to move up in the second and grab Awuzie. If they had it would’ve meant giving up Allen. It will be interesting to track the two.

  • SoCal Steeler

    Didn’t know that he came back from a broken ankle and probably a little too early. So there’s a good chance that we get a better player than he showed last season. Can’t wait to see him, Allen and hopefully Golson play this pre-season.

  • Steve Johnson

    Naw, I think he will replace Gay as the nickel corner.

  • Bvrsty

    Ugh. David’s show today was so hard to listen to, invaded by wind. Thx for siphoning.

  • Steve Johnson

    Great story, but we expect a former Coach to say that about his players. The interview with Colbert, displaying his intelligence and knowledge of Tennessee’s defense was impressive. I guess there are different opinions of this kid; analysts at the NFL Network seems to feel he struggles in man-to-man coverage. The other CB, Brian Allen? I’m curious to see how he fits into the Defense.

  • Bvrsty

    Project. Has measureables and instinct. Recently switch from WR to corner. How much/quickly can he play at pro level, then what is his ceiling? PS or ST for start of season???

  • John

    Sutton was drafted to be the next Deshea Townsend. We need someone that can cover. I think he can do it.

  • will

    Why did he drop? The ankle?

  • will

    Ike could tackle

  • will

    Burns seemed to tackle better as the season progressed in 2016

  • Michael Mosgrove

    big hopes for this kid. ive been pulling for him since november.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    and those that do say bad are because of the bama game where sutton wasnt at his best. but how many times have we seen our players get smoked or be off. plenty.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    sutton is a good tackler, not great but ive had an ankle and fibula fracture even months after certain pressures can make it feel like fire. even after the casts come off. hellits been 8 years since mine and i stil feel it if i step wrong.

  • Conserv_58

    If anyone hasn’t noticed by now there is a common denominator amongst the Steelers’ eight draft picks and it will pay dividens into the future. That common denominator being that every one of their picks are high character individuals and tough minded. Two of their picks, JuJu Smith, (broken hand) and Cameron Sutton, (broken ankle) came back early from their injuries and made positive contributions to their teams. JuJu Smith had a plate and screws inserted into his broken hand and five days later suited up and played. RB, James Connors’ story is well documented so there is no need for me to elaborate on it.

    What doesn’t show up on their game tapes is what they contribute in the locker room. Most of these picks were either team captains or great individual leaders who let their play speak for itself. The value in those positive character traits is immeasurable. They can make a huge difference between winning and losing.

  • steelburg

    Every player has weaknesses the important thing is how hard that player works to improve them. No one expected Burns to catch on as quick as he did last year but he put the work in let’s give Sutton a chance to do the same.

  • Conserv_58

    There is no question that those high character personality traits translate to the NFL. It’s a major component of why they were drafted by the Steelers.

  • Conserv_58

    The ability to shine in man coverage was the key prerequisite in the Steelers’ selection of the CB’s they took.

  • Conserv_58

    Those negatives are all coachable and when you have a player that wants to be coached then his growth will be exponentially quicker.

  • Conserv_58

    Ike couldn’t catch a ball tossed to him, underhanded, from three feet either. It is that reason why he never earned multiple pro bowl appearances.

  • You guys are going to like Sutton. He’s solid. His stats went down a bit the last couple of years for two reasons. First, he broke his ankle. It happens. When he came back he wasn’t fully healthy and that hurt. Second, other teams quit throwing towards him most of the time. There was a large difference between Sutton and whoever was playing the other CB role. If you’re an Offensive Coordinator, you don’t test the guy who is likely to pick 6 you when there’s a much easier target on the other side of the field.

    Sutton is solid and a good guy. He’ll work hard for you on the field and he won’t embarrass you off the field. Good pick up by Pittsburgh.

  • NinjaMountie

    Unless you’re Brian Kelly, then you tell it like it is.

  • John Noh

    I am the walrus. I am the walrus.

  • John Noh

    I guess the team really has no faith in Golson ever playing a meaningful down for them.

  • popsiclesticks

    You are countering one guy’s opinion with another guy’s opinion. Neither are solid fact.

  • popsiclesticks

    True, but you can do so much less glowingly that this coach did.

  • popsiclesticks

    I think playing nickle corner very soon was the reason he was drafted over a “higher ceiling” type of corner.

  • popsiclesticks

    How could they? Would you?

  • John

    Ike was a raw Brian Allen type. Sutton is Deshea Townsend. You need both kinds.

  • John

    Yes. We did the higher ceiling guy last year. Allen is also a higher ceiling guy — but much lower floor. Sutton is your safe pick who they think can play this year.

  • popsiclesticks

    Yep. And really, you can’t count on Golson so I understand why they went in this direction.

  • John Noh

    I may be a Pollyanna on this but I’m hoping for the best. Clearly he had some talent to Warrant a second round pick.

  • Douglas Andrews

    The Steelers certainly deserve alot of credit. On the defensive side of the ball they are assembling some talented young guys. If they get a similar contribution from these draft picks as they got from last year watch out. I don’t expect any of these guys to become starters in year one with the exception of maybe JuJu as the 3rd Wr or even slot guy but I do expect for Watt to play some starter snaps by mid season.

  • Axe Skot

    “V.I. Lenin… Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!”

  • The Truth

    Yes, it’s called my opinion. Also, judging by the videos and draft reports I would say it’s more accurate to say he is a poor tackler than good

  • The Truth

    Well hopefully they can coach him, but look how poorly the Steelers’ secondary tackles to this day.

  • The Truth

    I am not taking any chances from him. Hopefully he turns out to be the next Woodson or Blount.

  • GoSteelerz

    What I saw on tape was a guy who when defending the run and sometimes even screens, was hesitant, looked like he lacked effort, struggled to get off blocks, and got run over more often than I’d like to see. But like you indicated, an injury can take that edge out of a player. If you aren’t confident your injured body part will respond as you need it to, it can definitely make you hesitate. So that could be a part of what I saw. He’s recovered now and with the improvement in tackling we saw in Burns and Davis over their rookie campaigns, maybe Sutton will do the same. He seems to have good intangible qualities, the kinds of things you can’t coach, so there is reason to be hopeful.

  • SilverSteel

    Cmon Darth…after investigating our 2 DB picks more throughly. You have to be feeling better about them. I have a good feeling about them both. One has the measurables and SPARQ and Sutton has the experience and good quickness – slot for sure. Only thing I am wondering about is ILB and TE and I like Matakevich. He has it all, but is he quick enough?

  • will

    But he could tackle and made a key interception in the Super Bowl.

  • Derick L Young

    and… the person I responded to brought up the combine statements. We all know how they get it all right at the Combine. Graded Ike 5th-6th rounder. Can only imagine what was said about him. Probably said he can catch.

  • popsiclesticks

    The part you copied from the NFL Combine site is another guy’s opinion and you are using it as if it’s a mic drop or something.

  • The Truth

    Popsicles, yes. It’s an opinion I share.

  • Steve Johnson

    I hope Sutton and Allen are capable of helping the team quickly. If not, the secondary will once again be the weakest link on defense.