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2017 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Reaction: Round Three

The Steelers had two picks in the third round, thanks to a high compensatory pick, and they got themselves a pair of talented workhorses.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Once you get to the third round of the NFL Draft, you are typically looking for guys who will be solid contributors, but it’s not heartbreaking if they never become starters. Sure, you aim for that, but regular field time is acceptable.

When the chatter about your third-round pick is that he could be a day-one starter? You party like it’s 1999.

Yeah, there is little chance that the Steelers’ first third-round pick, cornerback Cameron Sutton from Tennessee, will knock Ross Cockrell out of the starting lineup in time for the season opener. He might not do it at all in 2017. But does he have that kind of talent?

Heck yeah.

While not as imposing as some other corners in this draft, at 5’-11” and 188 pounds, Sutton is a strong man-cover corner to complement 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns on the outside. He can play at the line or off it, thanks to great feet and fluid hips.

With a pedestrian 4.52 40-yard dash time, he does run the risk of losing contact with faster receivers. He is, however, a strong jumper, with a 34-inch vertical.

Finally, Sutton is a quality return man, with a career average of 14.9 yards per return and three touchdowns. Maybe, just maybe, this is finally the year someone is worthy of replacing Antonio Brown as the team’s punt returner.

Bottom line: Sutton is going to push Ross Cockrell early, and has the talent and natural ability to end up as the team’s number-two corner.

But wait there’s more.

Thanks to the NFL compensatory pick process, the Steelers had an extra third-round pick. With it, they chose running back James Conner of Pittsburgh.

Conner is one of the best feel-good stories in all of sports, coming back from cancer over the course of a single season. If the story ended there, it would already be fantastic, but Conner is a talented runner with excellent size. At 6’-1” and 233, his size and build is comparable to Le’Veon Bell, though their styles are significantly different. Conner is more of a straight-ahead runner, although he showed more moves in 2016 than he has in the past. That’s largely a result of how his body changed due to his fight with cancer, but also a testament to how he expanded his game in his final collegiate season. He also catches well out of the backfield and, like Bell, was used all over the formation. He is going to be an excellent change-up for Bell, and is good enough to carry the load should Bell miss time again in the future.

Through two days of the 2017 NFL Draft, the common trait among the Steelers’ picks is that they got some hard-working, technically solid players with a ton of upside.

That’s a fine two days, in my book.