The Steelers have the tools to give them what should be the most prolific offense in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, Martavis Bryant, DeAngelo Williams and Markus Wheaton. Unfortunately for them, Bell and Bryant cannot stay on the field thanks to injury or, more likely, suspension. As a result, this year the Steelers are going to have to make do without Bryant for the entire year, and that could be a problem as Wheaton did not breakout last year in Bryant’s absence, like he was supposed to. Luckily for them, they did draft another receiver last year, one that drew Bryant comparisons, in Sammie Coates.
Coates is a big bodied receiver with great speed and a knack for the big play. Admittedly, he spent most of last inactive and had just one reception in the regular season, but he wasn’t expected to make an impact last year, he was drafted as a raw prospect with a high ceiling, much like Bryant. I mean, look at what he was doing in college…
Now with a year of experience and with a starting spot to compete for in training camp, Coates has a real opportunity to capitalise on Wheaton’s missed opportunity last year. Just his physical traits alone make him a more appealing Bryant replacement than Wheaton, if anything, his biggest competition comes from Darius Heyward-Bey who at this point does not have the same upside as Coates.
What’s more, offensive coordinator Todd Haley has openly endorsed the work that Coates has put in this offseason, claiming that he has “had a tremendous offseason.” He even went on to say that his growth was evident at the end of last season, let alone now that he has had year to work on the nuances of the position.
I don’t expect Coates to immediately be at a similar level as Bryant, but he doesn’t need to be. I do think, however, that he will be a big part of the Steelers plans’ to replicate the production. Anything from 30-50 catches for 500-800 yards and 3-7 touchdowns would be a significant improvement for Coates.