When players are drafted in the NFL Draft, experts and fans begin to examine each pick with a fine toothed comb and begin to project any particular player's future success in the league. As everyone has seen, things don't always work out as they predict as several top round draft picks haven't panned out in terms of production at the professional level.
With a few games under their belts, it seems appropriate to take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 draft class and analyze how they have done. After all, some of these players won't see this many snaps for the rest of the season, if they make the final 53-man roster. We will take a look at snap totals, as well as Pro Football Focus' unique grading system for these young players just trying to establish themselves in the league.
Bud Dupree - OLB - Kentucky
Dupree has played an astonishing 113 snaps on the defensive side of the ball, 49 of those snaps have been in run defense, 54 have been in pass rushing situations and 10 in pass coverage. Dupree has registered one quarterback sack, two quarterback hurries and six total tackles through three games. His overall rating after three preseason games, according to PFF is a -1.9.
Dupree is still getting his feet wet in the NFL, and the Steelers are determined to give him as many reps as possible early in the preseason. No defensive player has played as many snaps as Dupree throughout the preseason, and if he continues to increase his production like he did against the Green Bay Packers last week, the time on the field will be well worth it.
Senquez Golson - CB - Ole Miss
Golson's surgery on his injured shoulder very well could have ended his rookie season before it ever began. All signs point to Golson being placed on injured reserve, ending his season, with Maurkice Pouncey likely taking the team's only available spot on their short-term injured reserve designated to return spot.
Sammie Coates - WR - Auburn
Like Dupree, Coates has played a lot in this 2015 preseason. Out of 117 snaps, Coates has been involved in 85 pass plays, and 32 run blocking situations. Coates has 8 catches this preseason for 124 yards and a long catch of 54 yards. Coates has made some magnificent plays and also some head scratching drops at the same time. According to PFF, Coates' overall ranking through three preseason games is a whopping -3.6 rating. Not a good rating for Coates, but consider who is throwing him the football.
With Coates' spot on the team's 53-man roster secure, look for the rookie to see more time with the starting offense now that it has been announced Martavis Bryant will be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season. With that, Coates will given an incredible opportunity. What he is capable of doing with that opportunity is anyone's guess.
Doran Grant - CB - Ohio State
Grant, unlike Coates and Dupree, has not seen the field as much throughout the preseason. In fact, Grant has only played 42 snaps. 17 of those snaps were in run defense, while 25 of those were in pass defense. According to PFF, Grant's overall ranking is a mediocre +0.2, but the expectations for the man now wearing No. 24 are much lower than the aforementioned players.
Grant will likely be a backup his rookie season, possibly inactive on certain occasions if he is unable to contribute in a meaningful way on special teams. Grant has shown skills in run support and pass coverage, but still has a way to go before he completely gets acclimated to the NFL game. There is no real need for Grant to be a major contributor on the field in 2015, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Jesse James - TE - Penn State
After a horrible NFL debut against the Minnesota Vikings, James has settled down, but also hasn't been called upon as often as he was in the first two contests. At one point it seemed to be a training camp battle between Rob Blanchflower and James for the third tight end position, but with Blanchflower being released injured, it is James' spot on the roster.
Through three preseason games, James has played a whopping 105 snaps, but the numbers aren't very pretty when you look at the analysis. In fact, James is one of the lowest rated Steelers players by PFF (-6.0) throughout the preseason, but he has improved as he gains more experience each week. James has only registered 3 receptions this preseason for 30 yards, but the young tight end won't have to worry too much about a roster spot, giving him ample opportunity to adapt to the NFL.
L.T. Walton - DE - Central Michican
Walton has had a very quiet preseason. Fortune has been on his side as Clifton Geathers was waived injured, opening up the door for him to see an increased amount of repetitions in camp and in the preseason games. With Stephon Tuitt out of the lineup for the remainder of the preseason, Walton will get even more chances to prove his worth.
Walton has only played 60 total snaps in 3 games, and has tallied two quarterback hurries and two tackles in his time on the field. For Walton, the best is yet to come in terms of opportunity and time to improve on his -1.9 PFF rating.
Anthony Chickillo - OLB - Miami
The other 6th round pick of the Steelers has made quite the transformation from his time as a DE in college to an OLB in the pros. Chickillo lost almost 30 pounds before reporting to training camp, and from the moment he stepped onto the Saint Vincent College campus, he started turning heads. Nonetheless, the player who impressed during drills, has done little else with his time in game action.
Chickillo has played 52 snaps this preseason, 29 in run defense, 21 in pass rush situations and dropping into pass coverage twice. Of those 21 pass rush attempts, Chickillo has caused 2 quarterback hurries and two overall tackles. His play in run support has also been solid which leads to a PFF grade of +2.9. However, before fans begin to fire up the "Chickillo over Dupree" wagon again, it should be noted the difference in snap totals between the two rookies, and also the competition they are going against. Dupree has seen regular time with the first team and second team, while Chickillo typically sees repetitions with the third string unit.
Gerod Holliman - S - Louisville
If there was ever a player who had a tremendous amount of hype surrounding him, it would have been Holliman. After notching 14 interceptions in his final year in college, fans were anxious to watch Holliman have his way with back up quarterbacks in the preseason. A player many saw as a great addition to the back half of the secondary has been passed up on the team's depth chart by the likes of Alden Darby and Ian Wild.
In 54 snaps this preseason, Holliman has registered two tackles, and hasn't come close to showing the ball skills he demonstrated at Louisville. To think a player could easily transition from the NCAA to the NFL and pick off much better quarterbacks with ease is a bit over the top, especially for a 7th round draft pick. Holliman hasn't shied away from contact this preseason, which was a concern with him coming out of college, and his best bet might be to find a spot on the practice squad for the 2015 season.