Why you should be excited about sixth-round pick Sutton Smith:
He can rush the passer: Smith, 6-foot and 233 pounds, amassed 56 tackles for a loss and 30 sacks in three seasons at Northern Illinois, including 54 tackles for a loss and 29 sacks in the last two seasons. Smith’s 15 sacks in 2018 tied for the FBS lead.
He’s decorated: Smith was a 2018 first-team AP All-American and the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
He endeavors to get to the ball or the backfield by in a hurry: Smith characterized his approach as “basically trying to be the biggest problem an offense can try and go up against. So I just try and go out there and play as fast as I can and never give up. Even if the play is like 40 yards away from me, I’m going to try and track it down and just play as fast as I can.”
He’s athletic: Smith’s 6.75 in the three-cone drill at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine compared favorably to Devin Bush (6.93) and Ryan Shazier in 2014 (6.91).
He’s potentially versatile: Smith, for the most part, was a stand-up defensive end the past two seasons at Northern Illinois. He said he’s talked initially with the Steelers about playing “a little inside backer, rush the passer, a little bit of everything, just anywhere that I can be productive.”
He’ll bring it from wherever he lines up: “I play with a lot of heart and a lot of aggression and speed, so wherever I end up, wherever I play, I’m just going to give it 110 percent,” Smith said. “I’m not going to look back. I just have to be a hard-nosed player, and that’s what I’m going to be.
“My path is to fight, and that’s all I know how to do is fight. And I’m going to do everything I can to prove to people that I can be an NFL player, that I can do whatever they need me to do, and I’m not going to be selfish. I’m just going to try and help the team in any way that I can.”
He’s already shown the Steelers a potential affinity for special teams: “We are excited about his special teams capability, watched him close down in Mobile (at the Senior Bowl) in that area,” head coach Mike Tomlin said of Smith. “This is a conversion guy, a guy that played defensive end. So, their abilities to display their special teams talents and play like linebackers is important. We got a first-hand sampling of that watching him work in Mobile.”
Added General Manager Kevin Colbert: “He's got a great motor. At the Senior Bowl, they actually worked him inside, as an inside linebacker. That's exciting from a special teams-capable player.”
He’s excelled against top-tier competition: “I think that one of the tapes that stood out about Sutton Smith was the multiple-sack game he had against Florida State,” Tomlin said.
View photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 sixth round pick, DE, Sutton Smith