DeAndre Coleman is the next in line of what has been an interesting lineage of Cal defensive linemen. The Golden Bears have produced a nice run of 3-4 defensive ends, but with the move to Sonny Dykes as head coach, the team switched to an even front and Coleman kicked inside to defensive tackle. There were expectations on Coleman in his senior year that never seemed to kick in, but he was a good, run plugger for the Cal problem.
Going to the NFL, Coleman is an intriguing physical prospect that has a lot of work to do technically. In spite of a tough season, Coleman worked to forced teams to double him and allow opponents to make plays. Coleman has been stout, but a combination of being slow with his first step and often playing too high has made it difficult for him to take the next step as a player. There is potential if he is willing to work on his technique and improve his craft. Coleman projects as a day three player that should be solid defensive line depth with the potential to be more down the road.
Vitals & Build
Coleman measured in at 6’5” 315lbs at the Reese’s Senior Bowl with long arms and a nice wing span. His quickness is above average but his overall speed is run of the mill. Coleman can show good strength but his functional power runs into problems at times. Coleman physically looks the part but needs to make better use of the tools he has. His potential seems substantial because of his build and frame that could continue to add strength and improve.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
Coleman reads the snap effectively and reacts accordingly, but how he reacts is an issue that needs to be improved. He does not gain much ground on his first step or really first few steps, so he has a tough time picking up any momentum. Additionally, Coleman will stand up too much and get high quickly.
The combination of those two issues has Coleman exposing his chest to offensive linemen almost immediately while not moving fast, which makes it easy to get a punch on him. The saving grace for Coleman is that he is so big, has strength and has those long arms which allows him to fight back and try to get into plays.
Coleman is basically starting every play from behind and having to work harder than he should and make what amounts to be a comeback to win on plays. He can get away with that in college, but interior linemen in the NFL are going to be moving him down the field before he is able to react. His first step and how he gains momentum in general needs to improve substantially.
Coleman does not do a ton when it comes to shedding blocks, but he has the tools to win in that respect. He has really long arms and can generate power where he can keep opponents out from his body or create separation when he needs to get loose.
Done well, Coleman is able to be relatively effective going laterally to chase down running plays. The issue for Coleman is because of how high he plays, he has a tough time getting off of blocks as a pass rusher and tries to overpower everyone into the backfield.
Coleman is a decent run player and did a nice job at times as the nose for the Golden Bear defense this past year. He did a lot of dirty work in order to draw double teams and give opponents the opportunities to make plays. In spite of issues at the snap, Coleman was often able to create issues and hold his ground.
Standing too tall and working harder than he should have to in given situations caused him to be vulnerable to get beaten up and driven at times. When he is able to adjust and get his pad level and extend his arms, he can be difficult to stop. It also enables him to see where the play is going, prepare for it and disengage to make a play.
In terms of his raw athletic ability, Coleman has pretty limited range. He makes a lot of it because he has a good sense of where things are going and is able to disengage as the play comes toward him, reducing the amount he actually has to move.
If he can consistently play lower and fire off of the ball better, Coleman is an intriguing option inside because he is going to have a pretty substantial reach advantage against most any opponent he is up against.
At this point, Coleman gives little as a pass rusher. For the most part, his pass rush is limited to collapsing the pocket and being able to make a quick move to disengage and get to the quarterback. His sacks usually involve him being in the right place at the right time and just not missing the passer as he runs by him.
He displays little speed, little quickness, and has a difficult time turning the corner. Coleman has been used on a number of stunts in his career to almost no impact. Even in obvious passing situations, Coleman is not someone who looks like he is going to give much as a pass rusher in his current form.
If he can get faster off of the snap, play lower and do a better job of shedding and winning at the point of attack, he could at least be able to possibly get a sack or few on running downs when the opponent goes for the pass. There is some potential for him, but it is going to take a good amount of work and at this point, he looks like a run stuffer.
The one thing Coleman will do is he consistently works to get his hands up and try to knock down passes. At times, it is almost a detriment to his pass rush as he seems to doubt himself on his pass rush, will hesitate to get in position to try to jump and deflect the pass rather than follow through on his pass rush.
Coleman looks like he can be a rotational player as a nose guard or nose tackle in an even or odd front. He is probably better suited to be in a 4-3 scheme that does not ask him to cover a ton of ground laterally and can soak up blocks for teammates to make plays.
Because of his frame and his length, Coleman is a possible 5-technique end in the NFL. He played that position when Cal ran their 3-4 under Jeff Tedford. Coleman still seems more suited to be a run stuffer in that capacity, but he could become more with technical improvements.
Regardless of the scheme, Coleman looks like he will start out as a rotational defensive lineman, specifically brought in to help stop the run. If he can put in the work and improve, he could end up developing into a starter down the road.
Coleman’s game is somewhat similar to that of Athyba Rubin of the Cleveland Browns. Rubin was drafted as a sixth round pick out of Iowa State in the 2008 draft to be a nose tackle in a 3-man front. Through hard work, Rubin has managed to have a solid career as a good run specialist in an even or odd front with the occasional sack along the way. Rubin is about to be on his fifth head coach in Cleveland while Coleman has had two in college.
DeAndre Coleman is a physically impressive looking player that does the dirty work against the run. If the team that picks him and Coleman himself can get him to play up to his potential and that frame, he could be a really nice player in the future. Until then, he is still a nice depth defensive lineman that can be an effective run stopping defender. Coleman is a day three pick that has a small chance of ending up undrafted, but should end up on an NFL roster for next season.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com