Throughout the course of an NFL offseason, there are moves which get overlooked. Often times these moves are ones which make a big impact on the team, yet were not those BREAKING NEWS stories when the move was made.
Some might call these moves ‘Under the Radar’ moves, and recently SB Nation’s Christian D’Andrea gave an under the radar selection for all 32 NFL teams. For the Pittsburgh Steelers he selected a smaller, but powerful, pass rusher drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft from Northern Illinois. None other than Sutton Smith.
See what he had to say about the ‘Under the Radar’ pick:
Drafted DE/OLB Sutton Smith (sixth round)
Smith is extremely small for an NFL pass rusher (6’0, 232 pounds), but he was the nation’s most disruptive player over his last two seasons at Northern Illinois. He’s a gamble, but even a fraction of that production would give Pittsburgh a valuable counterbalance to T.J. Watt’s edge rush.
D’Andrea labeled Smith as a “gamble”, but can you really suggest this to be true as a sixth round draft pick? While some point to Tom Brady and Antonio Brown as sixth round draft picks to become All-Pros, and some of the best of their positions, these cases are truly few and far between.
The reality is 6th and 7th round draft picks flame out more than they pan out, and few become true impact players for their teams. In this case, I don’t view Smith as a “gamble” but as a move with an extremely high upside.
If Smith gets to training camp, shows some promise and makes the team solely as a special teams player, it would follow suit for a 6th round selection. If he provides quality depth at the outside linebacker position for the Steelers, this is an added bonus. If Smith somehow shows his size isn’t a negative, but a positive in terms of leverage, and becomes a sack machine, then you have found yourself a genuine diamond in the rough.
When looking at it this way, Smith isn’t a gamble, but a high upside selection. If there was a gamble move for the Steelers this offseason, it might be the signing of Steven Nelson, the most targeted cornerback in the NFL last season. Paying Mark Barron more than most expected. Moving up 10 picks and giving up valuable draft stock to take Devin Bush. Those moves are gambles in my opinion, not taking Sutton Smith in the 6th round.
With that said, all of Steelers Nation is excited to see what Sutton Smith has to offer the black-and-gold when Organized Team Activities (OTAs) start this Tuesday.