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Steelers Go Corner, Wide Receiver in Rounds 2 & 3

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I’m sure the Pittsburgh Steelers have a plan – I just have no idea what it is.

On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected cornerback Senquez Golson and wide receiver Sammie Coates in rounds 2 and 3. Neither player is quite what I expected. They needed a corner. I know it, you know it, they know it. I’m just not sure they needed *this* corner.

Then again both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were ecstatic about Golson’s selection so maybe I just don’t get it. He’s certainly a fascinating player. The word “ballhawk” doesn’t do Golson justice as he hauled in a whopping 10 (!?) interceptions last season at Mississippi. Blazing 4.46 40 speed combined with superior ball skills make for what appears to be an ideal cover corner. What’s more, he’s not afraid to stick his nose in the line of scrimmage and provide some sure-tackling run support.

So what’s the problem?

He’s only 5’8. There are very few starting corners under 5’10 in the NFL and for good reason. Golson gave up only four TDs last year with three of them coming against receivers 6’4 or taller. How do you think he’ll fare against AJ Green or one of the Ravens’ giant tight ends? When ESPN played his game tape he looked positively tiny against college players, so wait until he steps foot on a pro field. From what I saw the guy has a ton of talent so I don’t think he’ll be a total bust but using a mid-second rounder on a guy who I worry has “career nickelback” written all over him isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

Of course, I don’t think the Steelers had it in mind either. Literally minutes before they picked, the Ratbirds swung a trade to jump one pick ahead of them to take TE Maxx Williams. Williams, a 6’4 pass catching machine universally hailed as the top TE in the draft, was surely ticketed to the Steelers as Heath Miller‘s heir apparent. I get a strong feeling the Steelers had their draft card all filled out and were waiting to send it to the podium when the Ratbirds swooped in, leaving them to throw up their hands and go for the best guy they had left at a position of need. Which isn’t to say they didn’t want Golson, just that I’m pretty sure he was Plan B.

In round 3 things went from confusing to “WTF Are They Doing?” when they took Auburn’s Sammie Coates. Yeah, a wide receiver because goodness knows the Steelers desperately need another wide out. If that’s not bad enough, the knock on Coates is he can’t catch. Lets see, the last time the Steelers drafted a receiver with lousy hands was a guy named, um, Linkus, Linus, something like that? Yeah, they really turned him around.

If Coates could catch he’d be a decent pick. He’s 6’1 yet still ran a sub 4.45 40 time which is fantastic. On his game tape you see him blowing by corners and getting wide open almost effortlessly. The size and physical tools are definitely there it’s just when a guy’s big weakness is “lousy hands” that’s usually a flashing neon sign saying, “Don’t Pick!” His drop rate last year was something like 14% which is absolutely brutal. So combine the fact they used a premium pick on a 4th receiver they don’t need with the fact said pick comes with highly suspect hands and you’re left with a serious head scratcher.

At this point, I have to think linebackers and receivers the only positions Kevin Colbert thinks are important. Year in and year out we seemingly use valuable pick after valuable in those areas while the rest of the team falls apart. I just don’t get it. Maybe the final day of the draft will bring about some unexpected riches – I sure hope so because as things currently stand, the Steelers needed a home run of a draft and I’m not even sure they hit a double.