With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: WR Sammie Coates
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers went out of their way to draft wide receiver Sammie Coates in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft for a reason, and that reason, unfortunately, came to a head this offseason when Martavis Bryant was hit with a year-long suspension.
The team didn’t beat around the bush after Bryant received a four-game suspension last year, telling reporters that a big incentive in the team looking at receivers high in the draft was because of what they knew they might be facing with Bryant, both short-term and long-term.
With Bryant’s long-term future in jeopardy, Coates now has a chance to make an impact in the short-term. After spending much of his rookie season inactive, recording just one reception for 10 yards, he was forced into a bigger role in the team’s final playoff game where he caught two passes, each for an explosive play, and also drew a defensive pass interference penalty.
The team is counting on him to take a major step forward in year two, and could potentially play an instrumental role in the offense this season, with the extent of his contributions riding largely on simply how far his abilities and his understanding of the offense will take him.
He figures to be at least the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart behind Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and most realistically will probably log the majority of snaps in three-receiver sets, but there does exist the upside that he could even enter the starting lineup at some point during the season.
Aside from Brown, Coates is the most physically talented wide receiver on the roster, and has more impressive traditional wide receiver traits than even the All-Pro, combining size, speed, and explosiveness, as well as an ability to compete for the ball and to record explosive plays, even if he has had a reputation for inconsistent hands.
Ultimately, there is virtually no realistic scenario in which he does not play a vastly more significant role in 2016 than he did during his rookie season, during which he only logged about 100 snaps or less including the playoffs, if memory serves, with a total of three receptions. In 2014, the team had five different players contribute at least 500 yards’ worth of offense through the air. I expect Coates to be one of them in 2016.