Tigers WR Goes Pro
What Sammie Coates’ Departure Means for Auburn’s Offense
It was announced Monday that Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates will declare for the NFL draft. The news was first reported by AuburnUndercover.com.
The dynamic pass-catcher hauled in 30 receptions for 717 yards and four touchdowns this season. Coates caught 78 passes for 1,733 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career at Auburn. More important than the numbers though, is the intangible leadership and big-game prowess that Coates brought to the table.
Coates’ three best performances of the year came against arguably the three best secondaries Auburn faced. The junior receiver had 144 yards on only four catches against LSU. He followed that performance with five catches for 122 yards against Ole Miss and racked up an unparalleled 206 yards on only five catches against rival Alabama.
Averaging nearly 24 yards per catch, Coates was an undeniable deep threat for the Tigers. So, what’s next for Auburn with no Sammie Coates?
The most logical answer would be to turn to D’haquille Williams, who accounted for 730 yards on 45 catches. Like Coates, Williams possesses a large frame at 6-2, 216 lbs. The former JUCO was a nice surprise for Auburn fans this year, but will likely enter the NFL draft along with Coates.
According to ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., both receivers could be selected as early as late first round to early second round in the draft. The potential loss of both playmakers, as well as the loss of senior Quan Bray – who contributed an additional 408 yards receiving – could lead Auburn into a major disadvantage next season.
The Tigers will lose another pass-catcher, senior tight end C.J. Uzomah – a crucial part of the offense. Nick Marshall, the man who throws them the ball, is also a senior and won’t be a part of the offense next year.
As if the losses in the passing game weren’t enough, Auburn will lose two of their best offensive linemen, center Reese Dismukes and guard Chad Slade, as well as the running back duo of Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant.
At this point, recruiting must be the central focus for head coach Gus Malzahn. Auburn is currently ranked 12th in 247sports’ national rankings. The natural talent is on the horizon for the Tigers, but youth could be an issue in the future, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Auburn has a commitment from five-star JUCO running back Jovon Robinson which could help out immediately in the backfield. They’ll also be bringing in D’Anfernee McGriff, a highly regarded running back out of Florida, and Kerryon Johnson, a four-star athlete.
However, Auburn currently has zero true wide receiver commitments. While there is young talent down on the plains, War Eagle has work to do in 2015.