Experienced and successful against top college programs
Versatile; could be an X, Y, or Z receiver with development
Must improve route-running
Should get better with his hands
Raw, not a polished receiver
Summary: Coates has the potential to be one of the better value picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. From a skill-set perspective, Coates is a special player with the speed to be a vertical receiver while having quality size. However, Coates is a raw receiver who needs to develop his overall game, especially his route-running and being able to execute all of the routes.
Coates didn't produce as much as he was capable while at Auburn because the team favored the ground game. He caught 42 passes in 2013 for 902 yards with seven touchdowns. Coates had 34 receptions for 741 yards and four touchdowns in 2014 and faced some double coverage. The senior lit up Alabama (5-206) though. If Coates had played in a different offense, he easily would have produced a lot more. At the Senior Bowl, Coates showed some potential to run the short to intermediate routes while using his size to his advantage.
Coates has the potential to be a big-play receiver in the NFL. He has enough speed to stretch a defense over the top. Coates also can get separation from cornerbacks and burn safeties in the deep part of the field. Additionally, he uses his size and leaping ability to make catches over defensive backs and is dangerous while running after the catch. Coates needs to improve his route-running and hands, but he has a skill set that can't be coached.
If Coates works hard, he has the upside to develop into a No. 1 receiver. The most likely scenario is he turns into a quality starter, but not an elite receiver. Coates should go in the first couple of rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Hakeem Nicks. The way that Coates plays reminds me of Nicks coming out of North Carolina. Both use a well-rounded set of skills to get open and make plays for their quarterback. Coates and Nicks (6-1, 210) are almost identical in size. Before injuries slowed him down, Nicks had some good years for the New York Giants after being a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Coates could go in the first round - or might go a little bit lower - in the 2015 NFL Draft, but I could see Coates being a receiver similar to Nicks in the NFL.
NFL Matches: Baltimore, Oakland, Miami, New York Jets, Minnesota, Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, New England, Kansas City
There are a lot of teams that could target a speed receiver like Coates. Late in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Baltimore could think of Coates as a replacement for Steve Smith. Coates' deep speed would be a great fit for Joe Flacco's big arm. New England also could use some help at receiver, and Coates would be an upgrade for Tom Brady's weapons. Taking Coates at the end of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft could be a nice impact pick for the Patriots.
The Dolphins and Texans demonstrated the most interest in speed receivers of the teams at the Senior Bowl. Houston could use a vertical receiver to pair with DeAndre Hopkins. Miami could move on from Mike Wallace in the next year or two, so Coates could be a replacement.
The 49ers could move on from Michael Crabtree, and with the age of Anquan Boldin, it makes sense for San Francisco to add more weapons for Colin Kaepernick.
The Browns will be without Josh Gordon in 2015, and obviously, he can never be relied on to stay on the field. Cleveland has to improve its wideouts, and a receiver with size and speed like Coates is a huge need for the Browns.
The Chiefs have a huge need at wide receiver as Alex Smith didn't throw a touchdown pass during the entire 2014 season. Coates would provide them with a play-maker and scoring threat. He would make sense with Kansas City's first- or second-round pick.
At the top of the second round, Coates could land with the Raiders. Oakland doesn't have much talent at receiver and lacks a deep threat. Minnesota also could use more receiving weapons for its second-year quarterback. The Jets need more receiving talent and Coates would give them another deep threat.