PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers have taken Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates in the third round of the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-1 Coates caught 34 passes for 741 yards and four touchdowns during his junior season with the Tigers in 2014 and was a second-team All-SEC selection. He caught five passes for 206 yards and two scores in a loss to Auburn.
Coates joins a wide receiving group that includes All-Pro Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant. Brown led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards last season while Bryant caught eight touchdowns in limited playing time as a rookie last season.
Earlier in the evening…
A couple more inches on his 5-foot-9 frame and Senquez Golson probably would have been long gone by the time the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock in the second round of the NFL draft.
Defensive backs who make a habit of finding their way to the football have a way of enjoying nice long careers. The Steelers will happily deal with Golson’s undersized frame if the skills that made him one of the best cornerbacks in the nation last year translate quickly to the pros.
Pittsburgh took its first major step at revamping its secondary when the defending AFC North champions took Golson with the 56th overall pick. Golson was a first-team All-American last fall at Mississippi, and his 10 interceptions tied a school record.
“He’s not one of the bigger corners but what I really like, what I measure DBs on is how tough they are,” Steelers secondary coach Carnell Lake said. “They have to check that box for me and I think he’ll do that.”
The Steelers are in major need of a talent influx in the secondary after the safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor retired and Brice McCain left for Miami as a free agent.
Golson is the second straight defensive pick by the Steelers. Pittsburgh took Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree in the first round of the draft on Thursday. Dupree said Friday the Steelers are “the right spot.”
“This opportunity I have right now,” Dupree said after being introduced. “I believe this is the right place for me.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Golson, who turned down a lucrative contract offer from the Baltimore Orioles to stick to football.
“It’s hard when there’s a $1 million check on the table,” Golson said. “But football is what I loved.”
Lake praised Golson’s versatility. Golson will likely work in the slot in nickel and dime packages early in his career. The Steelers have two outside cornerbacks in William Gay and Cortez Allen with Antwon Blake the most likely candidate to start in the slot.
Pittsburgh’s defense struggled at times last season. The Steelers finished 18th in yards and points allowed and managed just 10 interceptions as a team. They won the division anyway but have made restoring some aggressiveness a priority during a vital offseason.
“With us getting Bud yesterday putting pressure on the quarterback and now we’ve got a ball hawk corner,” Lake said. “It’s going to work out pretty well.”
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)