You are all getting spoiled for week 1 with this SECOND EDITION of Whose Stock is Rising! Check out part one here! Time to get back in the swing of Steelers football!
Although Steelers Nation has to wait an extra day to start the season, we have the opportunity to watch our squad on the big stage Monday night against Washington. For this second edition of “Whose Stock is Rising”, I decided to pick some low fruit from the tree and choose two young, yet vital players who are expected to step up big for the Steelers big MNF matchup.
Offensive Player Whose Stock is Rising: Sammie Coates
Since the development of Wheaton being ruled out vs the Redskins, Sammie Coates is next in line at wide receiver. Although showing flashes of potential, the second year Auburn wide out has been too inconsistent to regularly see the field.
With Wheatons shoulder injury, Sammie will have the opportunity to showcase the work he put in during the offseason.
Although it’s possible Darious Heyward-Bey could start over Coates, the absence of Wheaton will give way to more opportunities for the both of them.
While Coates had a solid offseason, his inconsistent play of causing turnovers and making spectacular catches during the preseason leaves Steelers fans scratching their heads pondering what type of player he develops into. The potential is certainly there for the 6’2″ deep threat, and now is his time to shine with a depleted receiving core following Wheatons injury and the suspension of receiver Martavis Bryant.
With Coates being mostly raw talent rather then a developed player, his route tree will likely be limited. This will benefit the offense, as the Redskins defense will key in on stopping Antonio Brown. When keyed on Brown, Eli Rogers will keep the safeties honest from bailing deep working from the slot. This will help Coates find holes in the Redskins zone defensive concept and be able to get chunks of yardage. Washington will not focus on him as much as Brown and Rogers, resulting in critical opportunities.
Expect him to also catch a fair amount of Todd Haley’s screens, in the past his No.2 receivers have been beneficiaries of those throws such as Bryant, Wheaton, even Emmanuel Sanders when he was still in Pittsburgh. Although Roethlisberger will likely look Brown and Rogers’ way more than Coates, his ability to stretch the field should result in a big play or two that can impact the outcome of the game. Eli Rogers will get more action, but Coates will make a big splash on Monday night.
Densive Player Whose Stock is Rising: Sean Davis
The Steelers have high hopes for Sean Davis, the rookie second round pick from the University of Maryland. He recorded 3 picks and 5 forced fumbles in his senior campaign while leading the team in solo tackles (70). He had over 300 total tackles in his 4 collegiate seasons playing both safety and corer. At the combine he ran a 4.46 with a vertical of 37.5, with a 10.5 foot broad jump while benching 225 for 21 reps. Davis’ combine numbers highlights his potential, and the athleticism he displayed playing for the Terps.
Although losing the starting strong safety competition to Robert Golden, Davis has found an alternative spot at starting slot corner. This is nothing out of the ordinary for him, as he played both safety and corner in college. His new role came about as a result of Senquez Golson suffering a lisfranc injury early in camp.
He worked hard in preparation this offseason, even receiving praise from head coach Mike Tomlin.
"““He’s one of the few rookies that I’ve seen that really kind of looks like he’s come prepared from a conditioning standpoint. So it’s not a knock against the others, it’s really a tip of the cap to him and I think that’s the first place that allows him to grow and take extra reps.” – Mike Tomlin"
That hard work will only play off for Davis in his first task, helping stop one of the NFL’s premier tight ends in Washington’s Jordan Reed. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons once had the responsibility of covering tight ends, but his constant struggles in the middle of the field has forced the Steelers to go to a Nickel package on passing downs. This is why the Steelers drafted Sean Davis. Davis has the size at 6’1″ along with the speed to compete with bigger receivers/tight ends in the NFL.
Although a safety, Davis has the tools required to become a critical corner at this time of need. He is a typical Steeler: an athletic talent and hard hitter. He will be able to sit near the line of scrimmage and use his instincts to make plays on runs. It won’t be much of a transition for Davis, except for man on man and the pace of the NFL. Steelers fans will happily see why they spent a second round pick on Davis in the near future.