Brandon Coleman had an incredibly disappointing year at Rutgers and while some of it can be blamed on Coleman, factors out of his control did nothing to help. A terrible quarterback situation and nagging injuries proved to be a problem. After a good opening performance against Fresno State, where he caught 9 passes for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns, Coleman only caught another 25 passes and 2 more touchdowns the rest of the season.
It seemed like a good move for Coleman to go back to school for his senior year and maybe it would have been, but he opted to declare for the NFL Draft. Perhaps, he simply bet on his own athleticism, but he may have just decided the situation would never get better at Rutgers and felt he had no other choice.
Coleman is a remarkable athlete who looks like he could be a shooting guard, but is an intriguing receiver prospect. There are a number technical aspects of the position that Coleman needs to improve as well as his situational awareness. There are also questions that relate to his passion for the game and just how much his situation at Rutgers discouraged him. On technique, Coleman does not warrant being drafted at this point, but his physical tools and upside warrant him going on day three of the draft with a chance for him to go much higher.
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 too tall. His body language looks uninterested and the results are no better. He will occasionally lean to move forward and get a decent burst off of the line, but there are too many situations where he bounces into his steps. He will also have times where he puts far too much weight on his back foot and he comes off the line sluggishly. Coleman should simply scrap it, get lower and work on firing out faster, because he makes himself look slower than he is the way he operates currently.
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.
There are also situations where Coleman seems to get overpowered too easily and it could be a case of looking for a flag. While that makes sense to a point, he would be better off just beating the guy and letting the flags take care of themselves and going for the catch. There is no question he will get calls, but if he can fight through them and make the play, he is far more valuable.
One of the other areas that prove problematic for Coleman is his situational awareness. For example, Coleman is running a short drag route across the field, turns his head to look for the ball and sees the quarterback getting ready to scramble. Instead of changing his route and getting himself in a situation where he could get open to make a play or potentially help block, he just keeps running away from the play. At best, this is ignorance to the situation. In the worst case, he has simply decided it was not terribly important. Neither situation is acceptable.
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. There are also some drops that need to be eliminated. 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.
In a small sample size of blocking, the effort was not great from Coleman as a blocker. He gets in the way but that is about it. The potential is there for him to be a force there because he is strong and has long arms that could make it easy for him to do. Like with everything else for Coleman, it is a matter of how badly he wants to do it.
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.
In a lot of ways, Coleman is similar to Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns. Gordon was a second round pick in the supplemental draft, which was a shocking move at the time. A checkered past with drugs along with almost no tape made it a huge gamble on a boom or bust talent. Gordon was painted as someone that may or may not care that much about the game as well. Nevertheless, he had unbelievable physical tools that Coleman appears to possess as well and Gordon bought in and worked hard, making himself into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL this past season. With work, Coleman has the potential to get there or at least be a good player.
Nothing about this season went right for Brandon Coleman this past season and while he still has a lot of work to do, he still has the potential to be a great player in the NFL. His physical talent and upside is difficult to ignore and he has been able to play well in spots. There will be questions about how badly he wants to be a good player and he is somewhat of a project from a technical standpoint, but he has the ability to become a great player should he want it. Coleman warrants a day three pick but could go earlier because of his incredible upside.
Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com