Sammie Coates: Steelers Next Big Offensive Weapon

Denver Broncos versus the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates (14) stiff arms Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) after a gain during the third quarter January 17, 2016 in the Divisional Round Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. (Photo By Helen Richardson/The Denver Post)

With Martavis Bryant now serving a year long suspension, there is no reason to believe that Sammie Coates can’t perform in a similar fashion as Bryant has done to this point. This is what http://www.nfl.com had to say about Sammie Coates when he was coming out of Auburn prior to the draft, which is very similar to what was said about Martavis Bryant.

Strengths

Looks the part. Long legs with well-proportioned frame. Outstanding combination of size and speed. Good acceleration off the snap for a receiver with his length. Can take top off defense and open up the underneath. Will beat bold cornerbacks over the top if they wait to turn and run. Forces cornerbacks onto their heels and gets easy, open looks on dig routes. Makes easy in-cut with maximum separation. Ability to win big plays vertically. Saved best performances for big games. Put 206 yards and two touchdowns on Alabama in 2014.

Weaknesses

Won’t be on quarterback’s Christmas card list. Wasn’t always on same page with Auburn QB Nick Marshall. Unreliable target. Inexplicable focus drops in all areas of the field. Doesn’t play with extended catch radius. Had a drop rate of 19.1 percent. Vertical receiver without vertical feel. Inconsistent play speed. Will gear down too easily on deep routes, turning catchable touchdowns into “overthrows.” Suspect ball tracking. Must improve at using body to ward off defenders. Inconsistent with contested catches. Stiff hips and limited route runner. Slow to gather and turn it upfield on catch-and-runs.

Draft Projection

Round 3

NFL Comparison

Martavis Bryant

Bottom Line

Big, fast and raw. Vertical wide receiver with the ability to hit big plays and have dominant games. Coates must be coached to trust his quarterback and run through his deep routes in order to reach his potential. He has early round traits and late-round receiving skills right now, but the upside will be hard to pass on and could pay off in a big way. He will be tethered to the JUGS machine in rookie camp.

A Golden Opportunity for Coates

While Coates isn’t quite as fast as Bryant, his speed is definitely comparable. Although he is a few inches shorter as well, Coates is definitely a lot thicker, and has an unusually long wingspan to help make up for those three inches. With all the tools that Sammie Coates possesses, there is no reason to think that he cannot be as explosive as Martavis Bryant has been, and if his three catches in the playoff game at Denver are any indication, Coates could very well help keep the offense from skipping a beat while Bryant is out. Sammie Coates might even be an upgrade. After already handling the pressure of filling in for Antonio Brown in a playoff game, and playing well, Coates should feel confident about stepping in for Martavis Bryant, and his chances to earn the number two spot.

In college, the biggest knock against Coates were his inconsistent hands, but then again, he had Nick Marshall throwing passes to him, not Ben Roethlisberger. Between Coates, who runs more and better routes than Bryant (I’m not cutting on Bryant), and having Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes, the Steelers could very well be looking at a breakout season for their next big offensive weapon. Coates is humble, very hard working, and he knows the offense. He was drafted last year with this very situation in mind, and despite having just four receptions during his rookie season, Sammie Coates seems ready to step up. While his NFL comparison, coming out for the draft, was Martavis Bryant, his early play is more reminiscent of another former Steelers receiver, Yancey Thigpen.

If Coates has a breakout season anywhere near the type that Thigpen had, the Steelers proactive approach to Bryant’s issues, when drafting Sammie Coates, will have truly paid off. The coaching staff and his offensive teammates are all impressed with the progress that he made over the course of his rookie season. Coates is staying in Pittsburgh this offseason, opting to work out at the team’s facilities. He is focused on making sure to be in the possible condition for the upcoming season, something he admits was lacking, when he arrived as a rookie.

“I wasn’t in the greatest shape I wanted to be,” Coates said. “I can’t come in slow [this season]. I have to come in fast and ready to go.”

Coates is driven to be the best he can be, and wants to be ready for the opportunity that’s in front of him. With the lessons learned during his first year in the NFL, he is armed with everything he needs to know to have the impact that he knows he can have in the NFL’s most explosive offense.

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