Speed was a theme of last year’s draft class, as the Pittsburgh Steelers took Ryan Shazier and his 4.37 in the 40 in the first round, then followed that up by taking the fastest player at the NFL Combine in diminutive scatback, Dri Archer in the third round.
This time around, the team had the same mindset, but it adequately filled the questionable holes on the roster, while at the same time, infusing speed into the roster. In the first round, Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree was taken, and human beings that go 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds aren’t meant to run 4.59 in the 40. I can’t wait to see the “Sports Science” on what it’s like to get leveled by Dupree, full steam ahead.
In the second round, the team grabbed Ole Miss cornerback, Senquez Golson, who possesses 4.46 speed. While not a barn-burner, he showed off his speed at rookie minicamp Friday and looked impressive doing so. Dupree could not attend, due to graduatory obligations but when he shows up, it’s likely his freakish skillset will be on full display.
In the third round, the team took wide receiver, Sammie Coates, from Auburn, who’s seen his fair share of Golson in their battles in the SEC. Last year, although not exclusively covered by Golson, Coates exploded on the Rebels, to the tune of five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in the team’s win. Known as a true deep-threat, Coates ran a 4.43 at the combine, but feels his game speed is what tells the tale.
At 6-foot-1, with a 21.6 yards-per-catch average, coupled with that speed, he’s another of Ben Roethlisberger’s long-coveted “big receivers” and the thought of the twin towers Coates, and 6-foot-4 Martavis Bryant, who runs a 4.42 himself, should be enough to keep defensive coordinators up at night. And that’s without even mentioning All-World Antonio Brown.
Both Golson and Coates are still trying to shed the monkey off their back, that being the critics of theirs, whether it be Golson’s lack of height, at only 5-foot-9, or Coates and his drop rate.
“I answer them by how I play,” Golson said, according to Fowler. “I pretty much silence them the same way, making plays on bigger receivers.”
Pittsburgh hopes this is true, with a schedule this season featuring some of the biggest in the game including Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson plus A.J. Green twice.
Coates was once looked at as a potential first-round pick, and at the team’s pro day, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was said to be keeping a very close eye on Coates as a possible target for Tom Brady. However, ESPN draft guru, Mel Kiper Jr. was quick to note that what hurt Coates the most was his drop rate of 9.8 percent. Former Steelers receiver Limas Sweed was a speedster as well, and it was evident as he never had problems running by defensive backs. What gave him trouble was the same thing Coates is being accused of, and that’s questionable hands.
Coates, as all receivers do, isn’t lacking confidence, and doesn’t think dropping some balls here or there takes away from what he’s done on the field, and that’s blow the lid off top-notch SEC defenses, including Alabama’s, who’s littered with four and five-star recruits.
“There isn’t anyting I can’t catch,” Coates said, according to Fowler. “It’s just sometimes I tend to run with the field. I’ve gotten better and I’m working at it every day.”
As coach Mike Tomlin always notes, football isn’t a track meet, but the 2015 version of the Steelers will boast some serious burners.