NFL Draft

2015 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Auburn WR Sammie Coates

After failing to have a scouting report on him before the draft, an evaluation of the Pittsburgh Steelers third round selection, wide receiver Sammie Coates.

#18 – Sammie Coates/WR Auburn: 6’1/3 212

The Good

– Elite measurable and long arms, 33 3/8 inches were second longest of any WR at Combine, and sure looks the part
– Vertical threat who tracks the deep ball well while maintaining speed when looking for the ball
– Large catch radius who extends hands away from his body, big target to throw to
– Capable of winning in multiple ways off the line of scrimmage, uses feet and hands well, has natural strength to create separation vs press man
– Can adjust to poorly thrown passes and gives good effort
– Will make highlight reel plays
– Strong body that is difficult to bring down, not elusive but runs through tackles and is a YAC threat in that regard
– Natural strength and length allows him to be an effective stalk blocker
– Productive career despite limited opportunities
– Seemingly high character, good-natured person

The Bad

– Far too many drops, inexcusable and unexplainable plays that show up too often
– Must be consistently explosive out of his breaks, runs hot and cold, clearly doesn’t look as explosive when he knows he isn’t getting the ball
– Tendency to round off his cuts at the top of his release, plant with the wrong foot
– Could stand to be more physical of a run blocker, eases up too quickly on crack blocks
– Didn’t run a full route tree, three route system and all pretty simple
– Some, though relatively minor, injury concerns


– Two-year starter who declared early, leaving after junior season
– 2014: 34 receptions, 741 yards 4 TDs
– 2014 Second-Team All-SEC
– Finished third in team catches but first in yards
– Played hurt through knee injury during 2014, missed one game due to the injury
– Missed entire 2011 season after having surgery on his foot, forced to medical redshirt
– Developed friendship with 12 year old Kenzie Ray, cancer patient
– Senior year of high school: 57  receptions for 1170 yards and 14 TDs, team won two state titled and lost only five games in Coates’ career
– Originally committed to Southern Mississippi but wowed Auburn coaches at a camp and received an offer
– Baseball standout in high school, hit .500 with 11 home runs last year
– Accomplished pitcher who struck out 16 in his first career start, senior year of high school, has a fastball that reportedly hit as high as 95
– Threw one perfect game and one no hitter and has an inside the park grand slam to his credit
– Uncle played football at Oregon Tech, signed a contract with the New England Patriots

Tape Breakdown

Similar to Byron Jones, Coates is a freak athlete with a ton of cool stories if you poke around the Internet. Catching a 99 yard touchdown pass in an attempt to rally his team from a 21-0 deficit. Going from a middling hitter his junior year to a star his senior. Never pitching before tossing a no hitter and a perfect game in the same season. Scoring from first as the result of an inaccurate throw to try to pick him off. Perhaps a bit exaggerated but still speaks to the freak the team added.

His measurables surpass Martavis Bryant’s who everyone agreed was a freak. Coates had a better vertical, and cone drill times than the Clemson receiver. Type of player every team looks for. The Steelers just do a nice job of collecting them.

Coates is big and strong and can show that at the line of scrimmage. One of my favorite plays came in the first game I broke down against LSU. Runs through the 6’3 corner off the line, finds the football, keeps his speed, extends to make the catch, and scores. Perfect.

He is able to adjust to the ball in the air. Either on spectacular, vertical passes…

Or on hitch routes…

Even the casual draft fan knows Coates’ biggest issue. His drops. Counted four in the four games I broke down. And some of them were ugly, inexcusable drops, too. Ones that really make your stomach do a somersault.

He does a nice job winning off the line but lets this pass shoot right between his gloves.

Not a polished route runner and it will get fairly sloppy. See it here at the bottom of the screen.

Eye in the sky doesn’t lie. Not explosive and a half-hearted double-move that wouldn’t fool anyone. Game needs to be more consistent.

Love the character off the field. From what I’ve read, sounds like a genuine guy. Great story with him and Kenzie Ray, a 12 year old fighting leukemia. Coates and Ray have formed a unique bond and use each other for inspiration and motivation. Check out an article that describes it.

As Richard Mann alluded to when asked, Coates is a lot like Bryant. Worst hands but a project who will wow as much as he will frustrate early on. But the talent is immense and for a team that thrives in 11 personnel – running it over 64% of the time last season – wide receiver depth is crucial. Who knows, maybe he pushes for playing time over Markus Wheaton. Overall, I’m feeling confident.

Hands need to be cleaned up. Bad hands have doomed many otherwise talented receivers.

Games Watched: vs LSU, at Mississippi St, vs Texas A&M, vs Wisconsin (Bowl)

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