Former record-breaking Vol cornerback and punt returner Cam Sutton became the third Vol to be drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him with the No. 94 overall pick in the third round on Friday.
Sutton was the second Vol drafted in the third round, joining Alvin Kamara who was taken nearly 30 picks earlier by the New Orleans Saints with the 67th overall pick. Sutton was the first Vols’ cornerback to be taken in the draft since Jonathan Wade in 2007.
Despite suffering a significant injury his senior season, Sutton bounced back late in the year and returned after missing two months with injury. He then performed well enough at the NFL Combine and at Tennessee’s Pro Day to convince scouts he was fully recovered, and the Steelers spent a late third-round pick on the Tennessee corner.
Pittsburgh has been revamping their secondary over the last few seasons, drafting a cornerback and a safety in the first two rounds of the 2016 draft while also drafting a corner in the second round of the 2015 draft. The Steelers also signed former Titans’ cornerback Coty Sensabaugh this offseason.
Although Pittsburgh’s secondary is a bit cramped with newer faces, the Steelers do need some flash in their punt return game. And that’s where Sutton could really make a name for himself.
Sutton finished his Tennessee career with 657 punt return yards on 46 returns, giving him an average of 14.3 yards per return. He also finished with three punt return touchdowns in his career with the Vols. Sutton owns the Vols’ record for most punt return yards in a season when he amassed 467 yards and two touchdowns on just 26 returns as a junior.
Pittsburgh had a middle-of-the-road punt return unit last season, finishing 17th in the NFL in punt return yards and ninth in yards per return. The Steerlers didn’t have a single special teams touchdown last season.
Sutton also had seven career interceptions and 127 total tackles in 45 career games with the Vols. He also holds Tennessee’s record for most pass breakups in a career with 30 in his four seasons.
He may not start immediately for the Steelers, but Sutton’s value is increased by his versatility and ability as a punt returner. Pittsburgh will likely use him in a multitude of ways.