Steelers 6th-rounder Sutton Smith, a college linebacker, taking reps at fullback
Much of the post-draft chatter surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers sixth-round pick Sutton Smith concerned whether the All-American pass rusher would play on the edge or at inside linebacker in the NFL.
Turns out, there was another yet unexplored position for Smith.
Smith confirmed Thursday that he has spent time at fullback during three of the past four organized team activity sessions. The two-time Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year said that during the past two Thursday’s workouts, he did individual drills with the fullbacks, and toward the end of Wednesday’s practice he was getting reps on offense during team drills.
“Whatever works,” the affable Northern Illinois alumnus said with a hearty laugh. “I will do whatever they need from me, for real. I keep saying that — but it’s the god honest truth right now.”
Sutton Smith played football at Northern Illinois like he was a Summa Cum Laude student trying to graduate after only a handful of semesters.https://t.co/9EddRh3nGY
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Smith had 29 sacks the past two seasons in college, but his 6-foot, 233-pound stature left him off the radar for most NFL teams. Though scouts saw his special-teams potential, it was thought Smith’s pro future on defense (if he had one at all) was on the inside.
But Smith was a 2,000-yard rusher as a senior in high school in the St. Louis area. And with eye-popping production in college the Steelers would seemingly like to see what he can do on an NFL field — regardless of which side of the ball.
“It’s honestly a great opportunity for me,” Smith said. “There’s obviously a learning curve because I am learning two different positions, so there’s gonna be some time that’s spent on both positions. But I think I am picking it up pretty well and so far we are just taking little steps at fullback right now. Hopefully, I can keep taking bigger steps in the future.”
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) May 30, 2019
What’s interesting is that the Steelers’ current fullback also was a MAC defensive player of the year — Roosevelt Nix won the award in 2010 as a defensive end at Kent State.
Smith was aware of this.
“Us MAC boys,” he said with a smile, “try to stick together.”
Interestingly, Smith said he has not taken any reps with the inside linebackers at all.
Then again, it’s only the second week of OTAs. And Smith recognizes that beyond all the two-way player noise, his quickest path to an NFL 53-man roster as a rookie is via special teams.
Still, he’s enjoying the double duty.
“Oh, it’s definitely an advantage; everyone has told me that here,” Smith said of playing both ways. “They are thinking of you as being a two-positional guy, which not a lot of people in the NFL do.
“So I think it’s a very good opportunity, and I just want to do my best at it.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .