Pittsburgh Steelers: Rounds 2 And 3 Selections


Jan 22, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad wide receiver Sammie Coates of Auburn (18) pulls down a pass during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers Nation, you wanted your team to draft a cornerback. Wish granted. In the second round with the 24th pick and 56th pick overall, Pittsburgh drafted cornerback Senquez Golson.

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In round three, the Steelers made it a triple play on the SEC as they picked up Sammie Coates, wide receiver from Auburn. With first round pick Bud Dupree a Kentucky Wildcat and Golson a University of Mississippi product, the Southeastern Conference has been well represented for Pittsburgh in the first two days of the draft.

In Golson, the Steelers pick up a player in a position they are in dire need of help. However, Golson is not your prototypical NFL corner. He is only 5’9” and just 176 pounds which might be a detriment in attempting to cover the many big receivers in the pros.

But the upside to Golson is that he is a ball hawk. Draft expert Mike Maylock’s take on Pittsburgh’s second rounder is “Pick Analysis: “Golson is a corner who is only 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, but what separates him is his ball skills. He played minor league baseball. The question is, how much does size matter? Golson is one of the best pure zone corners I’ve seen.”

“Golson is a corner who is only 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds, but what separates him is his ball skills. Golson is one of the best pure zone corners I’ve seen.” Mike Maylock

If Maylock’s analysis proves to be accurate, then the Steelers defense has received an immense upgrade in just two picks. With Bud Dupree providing additional pressure on opposing quarterbacks, that will help make the secondary’s job easier and with a player like Golson who loves to be around the ball, that should make for good results.

Now that Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu have retired, there are vacancies and depth issues for new Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler has to be concerned with. But after just two days of the draft, Butler should be feeling much better about his personnel for 2015.

As a college player, Golson was accomplished. Last season he was first-team All-American by unanimous choice. He was also named to the first team All-SEC. With 10 interceptions in 2014 he tied the University of Mississippi record for one season.

In voting for the Bronko Nagurski award, Golson was a finalist. The NFL draft was not the only selection process where Golson was picked to go pro. The Boston Red Sox also drafted Golson (a center fielder for the Rebels) in the eighth round of Major League Baseball’s 2011 draft.

Aside from the picks he made last season in football, Golson also deflected 16 passes. If he can get by the size issue, perhaps he can turn into the shutdown corner Steelers fans have hoped for since Rod Woodson skipped town. The negative on Golson from scouts is that while playing mostly in zone coverage and not man-to-man, he will have to learn and grow in how to play NFL’s version of man-to-man.

When the Steelers reached the clock in round three with the 121st pick overall, they turned their attention to the offense. It was believed they would at some point draft a running back or maybe an offensive lineman, but instead they added to an already deep receiving corps by grabbing another SEC product, Sammie Coates.

The very fast Coates also has some size at 6’1” and 212 pounds. Maylock’s take: “This guy is pure speed. He’s big bodied and takes the top off of zones. He is a height-weight-speed specimen. The only question is how natural are his hands.”

Coates will report to training camp at St. Vincent’s College this summer with the task of trying to win a roster spot while competing against Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Dri Archer, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Brian Chancellor, C.J. Goodwin, and L’Damian Washington.

With Mike Tomlin normally carrying five receivers, several from this group will not be suiting up on opening day 2015. It is already known that the big three will be Brown, Wheaton, and Bryant.

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  • That leaves room for two and just maybe three more receivers. Odds are they will be Heyward-Bey and Archer, although if Coates reaches the potential for which he was drafted so early, he could easily knock either one of those two off the roster or at best to the practice squad.

    If Todd Haley was speed on his offense, then he might want to give Dri Archer one more chance and keep Coates around which would give the Steelers an even more dangerous receiving corps.

    Some exciting stuff on Coates is that his final career mark for yards-per-reception was a hefty 20.9. Against the University of Alabama last season he caught five passes for a 206 yard day. Incredibly, in 2011 his average for touchdown receptions was an amazing 54.1 yards-per.

    The negative is concentration. Had plenty of drops while in college at a rate of 19.1 percent. Coates’ speed at the NFL combines in the 40 was 4.43. The race for the fifth receiver spot and possibly a sixth will be fun to watch in Latrobe this summer.

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