Analyzing Cameron Sutton’s Performance Against The Eagles

If there was any indication as to the type of defensive player second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton can be for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, Thursday’s performance against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles gave us a small sample but a very good. Prior to training camp, Sutton was heralded for his versatility. In reviewing his performance Thursday, not only was his versatility on full display, he demonstrated the types of skills necessary to be the type of playmaker the Steelers secondary has been waiting.

Using instincts to Make Plays

One of the strengths noted in Sutton’s draft report was his football instincts. In this particular instance, Sutton’s ability to diagnose the play before it unfolded saved the defense from what could have been a first down play. Sutton, in this case, is lined up on the line of scrimmage across from the Eagles left slot receiver. Even with the receiver in front of him, his eyes are also focused on the Eagles quarterback. When the ball is snapped, Sutton disengages from the receiver and follows the quarterback rolling out after executing the fake handoff. Sutton is able to track the play and uses his speed to force the play out of bounds.

 

Sutton’s Blitz Attempt

This particular play may not have had a successful outcome, but it is a good example of his position versatility. On this play, Sutton is again seen lined up on the line of scrimmage, this time on the left. Considering there was no receiver lined across from him, Sutton could be classified as a type of outside linebacker. When the ball is snapped, Sutton blitzes inside where is well-blocked by the Eagles right tackle. For Sutton who does not specialize in blitzes as fellow cornerback Mike Hilton, his position flexibility still allows for this type of option.

 

Sutton’s Interception

One of the aspects of Sutton which is not mentioned enough is his fluidity, namely his ability to flip his hips while tracking the ball. In this sequence, at left cornerback in press coverage. From the snap, note how Sutton stay’s square and at the right moment flips his hips to continue shadowing the Eagles receiver. When the ball is released by the Eagles quarterback, he then plays the ball at the right time and intercepts the ball. What is impressive to watch is how he plays both the ball and the man he is covering. One may make the argument that the ball was poorly placed, it does not change the fact that he had the presence of mind to make a play on it.

 

Though it may have been one preseason game, his instincts, coverage skills, and versatility are consistent with what has been reporting in his performances during training camp. In limited action last season, Sutton flashed many of the attributes which Steelers coaches have raved about. With a performance such as this, Sutton could make a strong case to become a starter at his position in the near future.

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