Steelers: Which rookie will make the most immediate impact?
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted 8 players in the 2015 NFL draft, and signed about 12 more undrafted free agents following the draft.
The following is a list, by round, of the Pittsburgh’s 2015 selections
Round 1: Alvin “Bud” Dupree – OLB
Round 2: Senquez Golson – CB
Round 3: Sammie Coates – WR
Round 4: Doran Grant – CB
Round 5: Jesse James – TE
Round 6: Leterrius Walton – DT
Round 6: (compensatory pick) Anthony Chickillo – DE
Round 7: Gerod Holliman – FS
Now, let’s assume that none of the undrafted individuals will make more of an impact on the team early on then one of those drafted. While only time will tell, chances are the most immediate impact will come from one of the players listed above.
At this point in time, cornerback and 2nd round selection Senquez Golson is battling a shoulder injury. News recently broke that he had surgery on his shoulder, so chances are he will miss a large portion of the season, if not the entire season, as the Steelers have been quiet on the matter.
It’s never fun watching a early round rookie go down so quickly, especially when he plays a position that needs dire assistance.
First round selection Bud Dupree has been on and off during the preseason. He struggled in the first two games, but showed great potential in the third against Green Bay. He had 1.5 sacks, and was also part of a team effort to sack Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, leading to a safety.
While many questions remain for the young pass rusher, he will probably get more playing time than a lot of the rookies, but could very well be worked into the position like the Steelers have done with many before.
While it’s clear that the Steelers focused mostly on defense, appropriately, they did draft wide receiver Sammie Coates in the third round. Coates is a very similar pick to Martavis Bryant of last year.
Questions surround Coates, like Bryant, about how natural his hands are, or how well he can catch basically. Recently, the Steelers have been a wide receiver factory, turning mid to late round picks into budding superstars. Though, with the top 3 receivers set in stone, Coates will be battling for playing time with other wide receivers.
Aug 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates (14) catches a pass in front of Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Watching Coates during the preseason has been quite impressive, and to add that to an already stacked core of wide receivers, including star Antonio Brown, the speedy Markus Wheaton, and the young aerial threat, Martavis Bryant. I’m sure Steelers fans nationwide are licking their chops in anticipation to see what this offense can do…I know I am.
Doran Grant, the fourth round selection out of Ohio State, just came off a season where he helped lead the defense to a national championship. He had 5 interceptions on the season, and is a great tackler.
With the recent trade with the Eagles for cornerback Brandon Boykin, the Steelers have solidified the top 3 corners, and Grant probably won’t see much playing time, especially if Golson is healthy. Attaining Boykin in the wake of Golson’s injury proves that the Steelers aren’t quite ready to entrust Grant with a starting role.
In the Fifth round, Pittsburgh selected tight end Jesse James. James has had an iffy preseason so far, giving eye sores to those who watched him play in the Hall of Fame game (though, he was also mourning the loss of a close friend, so we’ll cut him some slack there).
Chances are, James will be the 3rd TE on the depth chart behind Miller and Spaeth and won’t receive much playing time.
Both Walton and Chickillo probably won’t make an immediate impact on the team. In fact, both of them are going to be fighting for roster spots, and will either be deep in the depth, or on the practice squad. Either way, don’t expect much out of the two.
Finally, the seventh round draft pick, winner of the Jim Thorpe award, and having just finished his record breaking 14-interception season, free safety, Gerod Holliman.
Holliman was drafted in the seventh round because he simply cannot tackle, at least according to the scouts. Being a safety, the ability to tackle is quite the important attribute, and not being able to do that could hurt his chances of starting.
Otherwise, if he proves to be capable of tackling, Holliman could very well be the steal of the draft, and could find himself receiving some playing time behind Shamarko Thomas, or Mike Mitchell.
Overall, it’s likely that most of the Steelers rookies won’t make immediate impacts, but over time, will add needed help to the team. The Steelers are known for easing their rookies into NFL gameplay, and none of the new blood this year have shown enough to earn immediate large amounts of playing time.
Expect Bud Dupree and Sammie Coates to make the most immediate impact, but don’t expect too much of an impact. Also keep an eye on Doran Grant and Gerod Holliman to see if they can provide any assistance to the secondary.
Next: Opportunity strikes for L.T. Walton
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