Since Greg Schiano took over the Rutgers program, they have improved their output and profile in the NFL Draft and even with Schiano in Tampa, his impact is still being felt. As the Scarlet Knights are preparing to move to the Big Ten, they are out producing most of the conference they will be playing soon in terms of the NFL Draft. The best wide receiver since Mohamed Sanu appears to be Brandon Coleman, who is an imposing physical force. As a sophomore, Coleman caught 43 passes for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns; basically a touchdown for every fourth catch.
Coleman is a remarkable athlete who looks like he could be a shooting guard somewhere but is a terrific receiver prospect. He still needs to improve on some of the nuances of the game including using his body better in terms of boxing opponents out, but his upside is tremendous and if the quarterback play improves, Coleman’s production should go through the roof. It is difficult to imagine Coleman escaping the top 75 at this point but he has the potential should he continue his development to push him into competing for a spot in the first round, should he declare.
Vitals & Build
Coleman is listed at 6’6” 220lbs with an impressive build and great athleticism. He demonstrates remarkable body control, speed and acceleration for his height as well as good strength. And with how much strength he has seemingly added so easily, he could continue developing physically and end up looking more like a tight end than a wide receiver. While he is unlikely to ever play inline, he could end up playing in the slot as well as on the outside. Coleman’s potential athletically is remarkably high and it is difficult to say just how far it could go. Getting up to around 240lbs seems realistic at some point in the NFL.
Route Running & Technique
Coleman’s stance is inconsistent. There are times when he does a good job and fires off the ball forward with a small amount of bounce. He will also have times where he puts far too much weight on his back foot and he comes off the line sluggishly. This just comes down to consistency and paying attention to details.
As a route runner, Coleman does not run an extensive route tree but he does a good job with the plays he does run. For the most part, Coleman is running go routes, drags, slants, and post type routes. He does a good job of setting up routes and will create a ton of separation from opponents beyond what he is able to do naturally because of his size and speed. As a result, he puts himself in position to get big plays after the catch.
The biggest area he needs to work on is using his body better, especially when the ball is going down the field. Inconsistent quarterback play is a problem but he lets opponents into his body too often and does not take full advantage of his broad build and height. He ends up trying to go over the top of the defender too much and it has mixed results. Overall, it would be easy for Coleman to rest on his athletic laurels but he does show the drive to be better and not simply settle on winning with athleticism. That is an extremely positive sign as it suggests he is trying to work on and perfect his craft.
Coleman possesses huge, strong hands that enable him to snatch the ball out of the air cleanly and easily. When he does it, his catch radius is enormous and the area where he is effective is as big as there is. Coleman is not afraid to go up and high point the football. He tends to let too many passes get into his body and needs to take better advantage of his hands but he does show some signs of going in the right direction. A lot of this will just come down to repetitions and just getting more comfortable and trusting in his hands. The good news is that when he catches the ball, his strength makes it so he does not lose it once he has caught it, so it will be difficult for defenders to knock it out when he brings it down.
Run After Catch
Coleman is impressive after the catch and is an aggressive runner. He tends to keep running down the field with subtle cuts that do not force him to slow down as he has the speed to go all the way, but he will switch it up and use some stop and start type moves to make opponents. Coleman is quicker in small space than people might expect and he will use his off hand to help maneuver himself. He should look into developing a good stiff arm and he has the strength and long arms to be devastating and shove guys down to the ground. His body control comes into play here and he has shown the ability to catch the ball near the sideline and turn it up field and make a good play into a scoring one.
Coleman’s best fit is as an outside receiver with the speed to stretch the field and go up and get the ball, but he could be used as a joker type player in the slot. He is too big for guys on the outside and too quick for guys on the inside and with his ability after the catch, he is a threat anywhere on the field. There really are not many teams who are not going to be interested in a guy like Coleman when he enters the draft.
|Thu, Aug. 29||at Fresno State|
|Sat, Sept. 7||vs. Norfolk State|
|Sat, Sept. 14||vs. Eastern Michigan|
|Sat, Sept. 21||vs. Arkansas|
|Sat, Oct. 5||at SMU|
|Thu, Oct. 10||at Louisville|
|Sat, Oct. 26||vs. Houston|
|Sat, Nov. 2||vs. Temple|
|Sat, Nov. 16||vs. Cincinnati|
|Thu, Nov. 21||at Central Florida|
|Sat, Nov. 30||at Connecticut|
|Sat, Dec. 7||vs. South Florida|
The game in Fresno against the Bulldogs is important for Rutgers to get off to a good start and Coleman could be a big key for that to happen. Rutgers beat up Arkansas last year and get them at home this year but the players on Arkansas have not forgotten, so that could be intriguing to see how they respond. It is an SEC opponent as well and an opportunity to send a message before they go to the Big Ten. Louisville is likely the biggest opponent on the schedule and the game is in Louisville. Much of the focus naturally goes to Teddy Bridgewater but Hakeem Smith is a talented safety and could be helping out in defending Coleman over the top.
Right now, Coleman’s game is similar to that of Jonathan Baldwin of the Kansas City Chiefs. Baldwin was a first round pick out of Pittsburgh with a nice combination of size and speed, but there were questions about his work ethic. To this point, that might be something that gives the nod to Coleman but both are guys who need to fully understand how to use their body to make them more effective as a receiver. Baldwin came out closer to 230lbs which is probably where Coleman will end up when he is picked. Both players need to do a better job of using their body in how it can help them create separation and open up opportunities to make catches.
Coleman is a terrific athlete and should be a player who tests well and players like him tend to go high even when incredibly raw, which is why it is difficult to see how he could get out of the top 75. His size and physical gifts will undoubted create a buzz whenever he decides to go into the draft and there are a lot of good signs that he is more than just hype. The production, though not as good as it could be, is impressive and he appears to be someone who is not satisfied with just being a terrific athlete. As he develops and gets better with his body positioning as well as just becomes more consistent and comfortable, he could easily be a guy who ends up fighting for a spot in the first round.