Devil’s Advocate: Offensive Role For Coates

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: What role will there be, if any, for wide receiver Sammie Coates entering his third season?

The 2016 season started out extremely promising for former third-round wide receiver Sammie Coates, but by the end of it, many fans at least seemed to be ready to run him out of town. Even though he outperformed everybody else in his draft class last year in terms of yards per route run, some nuance is to be taken into account there.

Coates had six receptions of 40 or more yards in the first five games, but he had very little production after that. The separating even between the two time periods was a pair of fractured fingers, and one must wonder how that, and a beefier wide receiver room, will affect his prospects for the 2017 season.

I do believe that, at the end of the day, if he looks like he deserves a role, he will be given a role, even if he might struggle to find opportunities behind the starters. It is another matter as to whether or not he will do so.

There is still a lack of clarity as to whether or not he had his hand surgically repaired, but the offseason should do him good regardless, both physically and mentally, as no doubt the mental aspect played a role in his second-half struggles.

The talent that he exhibited in the first five games didn’t just vanish. It’s still there within him. He is still big, and still fast, and still possesses the ability to track the deep ball.

But he also had stunted growth. He came into the league raw and he hasn’t had a ton of reps in practice due to being low on the depth chart his rookie year, and then due to his hand last year. He can’t be a one-trick pony in this deep room and still draw great value.

So he may be already too far down the priority list, assuming everybody ‘above’ him plays as anticipated, to draw many snaps on offense. It could be that he will have to earn his bread on special teams, with the hope that he will eventually get an opportunity—which may have to come due to an injury. That certainly happened often enough last year.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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