The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates was drafted in the third-round of the 2015 NFL draft and only started one game last season. In the most important game of his career, Coates provided the necessary spark to move the football down the field. This was no ordinary game. It was the AFC Divisional matchup against the Denver Broncos. While we only have a small sample of his play to go off of, I believe Coates will have a breakout 2016 season and here is why.
1. Martavis Bryant Suspension:
The Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates may just be the player to help fill the void of Martavis Bryant, who will miss the entire 2016 NFL season with a substance abuse suspension. The Steelers wide receiver depth behind Bryant is very strong. Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey are two excellent receivers who can also help during the suspension. Last season Heyward-Bey filled in for Bryant quite well and certainly made his presence known with some tough catches he hauled in. When it comes to the number two wide receiver spot, head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media with an "open competition" remark. There will be a battle for the number two spot along side star receiver Antonio Brown. This is a great chance for a second year player in Coates, who just might deserve the spot if he puts in the necessary work. Coates has big play capability and was compared to Bryant coming into the 2015 NFL draft. He is a quick, versatile, wide receiver who will fit perfect when called upon next season.
2. Excellent Playoff Performance:
Sammie Coates' divisional playoff performance alone should give him the confidence to succeed at the NFL level. Coates was a true impact player when put into the lineup. He started his first professional football game after star receiver Antonio Brown went down with a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card. Converting third downs for the Steelers was a key disappointment in the 2015/2016 NFL season. Ben Roethlisberger found Coates on 3rd and 8 with a short route in which he took the ball up the field for a gain of 37 yards. Instantly, you could see how quick and speedy this receiver is. Being 6-feet 2-inches tall, he also has the vertical ability to reach for the ball when needed.
Coates' only catch in the regular season came against the Baltimore Ravens in a week 4 matchup. He finished the Broncos game with 2 catches for a total of 61 yards. This does not include the play where he was able to draw a pass interference penalty. Not bad for a rookie who hadn't played much professional football heading into the playoffs.
Having a year under his belt certainly will help him go into the 2016 season. He shouldn't make any "rookie" mistakes, and should know the complete playbook for the wide receiver position. Considering Coates only started in one football game, the only thing he might not be used to is the amount of time he will be on the field. In the divisional game he was only on the field for a handful of snaps. This will change going into next season with Bryant being suspended and barring any injuries to the wide receiver position. It is no secret that offensive coordinator Todd Haley likes to give playmakers the chance to get involved and Coates is certainly one of those.
Sammie Coates' first reception was a simple route that turned into a big play. He showed that he has big play ability every time he touches the football. Before he got past star cornerback Chris Harris Jr, a simple pick route by Darrius Heyward-Bey provided the necessary separation for Coates to run past defenders for a gain of 37 yards.
Roethlisberger found the rookie receiver on first down after he broke over the middle and pushed the cornerback upfield. This helped Coates get open and find running room for a gain of 24 yards.
As you can see Sammie Coates is poised for a breakout 2016 season. He has the ability to do just about everything seamlessly and will be a fun football player to watch. Let's all hope Coates works hard to prepare himself for what most likely will be a very successful sophomore campaign.