Sammie Coates is a good sized receiver at 6’2″ and 200lbs. He has good speed (4.43 range) to go with his size. Before last season, it looked like he packed on some muscle, to help get him ready for the 2016 season. Since Martavis Bryant was suspended for the year, Sammie, only in his second season, seized the opportunity to become the #2 option early in the year. He started the season on fire, with 19 catches for 421 yards and 2 TDs ranking him in the top 10 for receiving yards for the league. Then a broken hand sidelined his productivity as he remained a special teams contributor, but only tallied 2 catches for 14 yards in his next 9 games.
Sammie also had 5 drops last season to go with his 21 catches. With such a small number of receptions, the number of drops is significant. Another telling statistic was his 42.9 catch percentage, which was the lowest catch percentage in the league for players with 4 drops or more.
Sammie’s season was a tale of 2 halves. Very productive NFL receiver, vs running the routes, but not making plays. So what happened? The injury did play a part, as his fingers did not heal back to normal, and his pinkie now bends away from his hand. Though I think it comes down to hand placement and his catching tendencies. Let’s take a look at his highlights to see if we can break down some tendencies that would hinder him from becoming a great receiver.
Here are Sammie Coates’ highlights.
20sec Elbows are wide apart. If you get contact, the ball goes right through the hoop. Which happened in the NE playoff game.
30sec was a good catch in stride using his speed. Arms were in a better locations, both palms facing the ball over his shoulder.
40sec Excellent catch. Perfect hand placement, elbows in. With contact, no chance of dropping it.
50sec A one handed body catch with his other palm facing away from the football. He made the catch, but this is bad hand placement
1:00 Perfect hand placement, both hands up, palms facing the ball.
1:10 I’m not going to fault his hand placement here, because he had to jump over a defender to attempt to make a play, which he did. Pinkies were together (which is good) and he made a snatch at the ball, pulling it into his body. It’s a lower percentage play, but he made it and it looked amazing.
1:16 He adjusted his route to basket catch (pinkie to pinkie) this ball moving away from the defender. He could have high pointed to face the ball with his thumbs, but I think he made the right call using his body positioning and speed to make sure the defender couldn’t make the play. Since it was a soft ball thrown by Ben, this was the right way to catch the ball. If the ball was a laser, his right hand positioning is much smaller and could get in the way of making a catch.
1:23 I’m nit picking here, but his palms weren’t facing the ball, they were only about 40% facing (you want over 45degree angle). He’s being defended on the catch, so he kind of grabbed the ball like a rebound. Again, he made the play.
1:53 Good full extension catch with great hand placement. Getting the toes in also was a plus. This should have been incomplete, but he made the play for Landry.
2:00 a Scoop body catch. I hate these catches. He is waiting for the ball when he could have attacked it. In the NFL, these passes are usually defended, but Ben did drop it in perfectly between the defenders, and Sammie did slow up his route to adjust for the ball to drop in his body scoop.
2:14 Nice slide to adjust to a low ball downfield. This is when he was playing with swagger and confidence. When he went down he still snatched at the ball too quickly to pull it in, and his left hand was at a bad angle, but he made the catch. This snatching at the ball when his pinkies are together is now a tendency that can be fixable.
2:24 is a great example of poor hand placement, and a good look into why he drops balls. It’s a pancake snatch. He’s essentially clapping his hands on the ball with the pinky side edge of his hands facing the ball, and he snatches at it. He is wide open, and has no reason to make a play on the ball this way. If he high points it, thumbs out, he has a chance to spin and make a play with his legs. When you don’t have your palms facing the ball and also have a tendency to snatch balls, this creates a very short precise time period you have to make a play on the ball. He’s actually working against himself to give him the lowest hand timing to make the catch.
2:30 Again his elbow placement was a little far out, and he didn’t make a perfect reception though his hand placement was good, but he had to quickly pull it against his upper chest to secure it. If your elbows are in, it improves your palm placement, and you can go immediately to a tuck after the reception.
2:36 He has good hand placement, thumbs together, palms facing the ball. But then he does a quick snatch, like ripping down a rebound to secure. I’m not sure if he thought the defender was closer and he was making sure to secure it quickly, but the snatch move is now well documented.
These highlights show me 3 tendencies and both are correctable with proper coaching:
1. hand placement. Work to get the palms facing the football at all times, whether you have your pinkies together or thumbs together. More surface area for your hand to make contact with the ball, and you increase your catch percentage.
2. quickly snatching the ball toward your body. In traffic, this can be seen as a plus. When you’re open, it is setting yourself up for potential drops. Securing the ball with your hands first will assure possession and cut down on the need to secure the ball with your body each time.
3. Elbows in. When making basket catches, bring the elbows in toward each other. This rotates your hands to get them parallel, increasing palm surface area and gives you a second chance to secure the catch with your arms should the ball slip through the hands.
Sammie has the size and speed to be a good to great NFL receiver. With just a few adjustments in his technique, the sky is the limit for his potential to shine.