The Pittsburgh Steelers and GM Kevin Colbert have been magicians at finding quality wide receivers in the mid-to-late rounds of the NFL Draft. Whether it is Antonio Brown being selected in the 6th round or Martavis Bryant in the 4th, Sammie Coates as a 3rd round draft pick certainly has expectations surrounding him entering his rookie season.
Leading up to the Draft, many experts compared Coates and his raw ability to Martavis Bryant. Their size, speed and lack of the details which accompany great wide receivers were obvious comparisons. As the comparisons are great, one difference between the two is the expectations surrounding their rookie seasons.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers were extremely pleased when Bud Dupree fell to them in the 2015 NFL Draft. Now the Kentucky product is showing what he is made of in training camp, and he isn't disappointing.
Go back to 2014 when Bryant was drafted and look at the team's wide receiver depth chart. Antonio Brown was the clear No. 1 wide receiver, second year Markus Wheaton was coming off a difficult rookie season to be the team's No. 2 receiver in the wake of Emmanuel Sanders' departure and Justin Brown was the player selected to be the No. 3 receiver. Rounding out the team's WR depth was newly acquired Darrius Heyward-Bey.
When Bryant was drafted fans were hoping he would at least be able to be the No. 3 receiver on the team, despite the reports of him being a very unpolished receiver coming out of Clemson. When Bryant was inactive for the first 6 weeks of the season, the fan base was up in arms declaring Bryant to be a bust of a draft pick. Bryant turned out to be a big part of the 2014 Steelers' offense, but the situation he came into was rather dire.
On the flip side is rookie Sammie Coates. Same pedigree entering the NFL, but the expectations are completely different. As Bryant was expected to contribute immediately, the feeling around Coates is more relaxed. Coates comes into an offense with Brown, a more developed Wheaton and a more polished Bryant as the team's top receivers. Heyward-Bey continues to remain on the team, and Coates will be locking horns with him and a few others to be the team's No. 4 wide receiver.
The Steelers don't run 4-wide receiver packages often, which means Coates' battle for a spot on the team will be as a part-time player called upon occasionally to enter the game. Barring injury, Coates will have time to learn the system and get acclimated to being an NFL receiver within the dynamic Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
Coates and Bryant certainly have their comparisons when it comes to tangible tools which they possess, but when it comes to the talent of the receiver corps they are joining and expectations on them as rookies, they couldn't be more different. Regardless, the Steelers hope Coates can follow Bryant's lead in terms of rookie production making the Steelers receiving group one of the greatest in team history and across the NFL.