Corey Coleman could be a solid option for the Philadelphia Eagles in their search for wide receiver depth.
The annual NFL Scouting Combine is just 2 days away, as the Philadephia Eagles brass prepares to take to the skies on its way to arguably the biggest scouting conglomerate of the year. Once there, Eagles officials hope to observe and probe potential targets in order to reaffirm their process, and to gauge propensities and personalities to get a more intimate knowledge of those who are on the board come April. Among those whom the organization will undoubtedly have a close eye on is former Baylor superstar wide receiver Corey Coleman.
It’s no secret that the Eagles wide receivers failed to meet expectations in 2016. Jordan Matthews began the season poised for a breakout, then battled a hand injury and a litany of drops before recapturing form in the season’s latter stages. Josh Huff picked up where he left off in 2014, for the most part; relatively effective as a returner, but maddeningly inconsistent as a pass-catcher. Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor grappled with drops and lower leg injuries that proved an insurmountable hindrance in his rookie campaign. Although there’s an argument to be had against allocating premium resources (again) into the WR position (*future post*), adding a veritable lightning rod like Corey Coleman has undeniable value.
Coleman is listed at 5’11” 190lbs, which should put him around the 20th and 25th percentiles for height and weight among prospects, respectively; however, the diminutive receiver plays much larger than his size indicates. He’s not Steve Smith in this regard, but Coleman possesses the ball skills and leaping ability to play the ball in the air, and does so regularly, routinely making the acrobatic catches not typically associated with the prototype deep-threat receivers. This skill of course coincides with athleticism, explosiveness, and tracking ability; all of which Coleman possesses in spades. It’s fair to wonder if Coleman would be the consensus WR1 – and likely top 5 pick – if he were just 6’2″.
Every year there’s a premiere deep threat (or several, in recent years). This year, that man is Corey Coleman. Coleman is extremely likely to run somewhere in the 4.3s. In fact, I’d be shocked if he didn’t. Pure top-end speed aside, Coleman isn’t just a dragster, so to speak, he has the ability to gear up and down (particularly the former, and in a hurry), and change direction. He’s a smooth accelerator, and while he doesn’t have a refined route-tree, that doesn’t stop him from being the best pure deep-threat/separator in the class. Simply put, Coleman has the deep-speed alone to abuse NFL corners, making any slight misstep an offense punishable by 6. Very few corners in the league have the recovery speed to make up ground on Coleman. And when Coleman beats defensive backs, he can track the deep ball (as previously mentioned). And when he tracks the deep ball, he has the reach, soft hands, and body control to haul it in. These are the skills of a lethal deep threat, and Corey Coleman has every last one of them.
Coleman’s skill-set isn’t limited to rare deep threat with leaping ability, however. He’s also a versatile chess piece with the power to impose his influence from a number of platforms. Coleman has seen time inside and out, in the backfield, and at punt returner. He’s essentially what the Rams hoped Tavon Austin would be, and then some. To be clear, Coleman is mainly an outside receiving threat, but the versatility is another feather in his cap, and I’d be surprised if whatever NFL team acquires him doesn’t take full advantage of his diverse skill set (particularly on punt return).
As his role as a punt returner and a backfield asset might suggest, Coleman is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He has good vision, quick feet, and the ability to cut and elude would-be tacklers. For this reason, Coleman can be lethal in the screen-game, and any other time he can be unleashed in space. Again, although Coleman hasn’t run a diverse route tree, it doesn’t take away from his overall effectiveness/dynamism.
As I’ve touched on previously, Coleman doesn’t run anything close to full route tree, instead being relegated mainly to screens, 9 routes, and comebacks designed to burn DBs giving too much cushion. His lack of a refined route repertoire somewhat limits his appeal/diversity of skill set, although I wouldn’t say it’s damning by any stretch. This isn’t to say he’s unable to expand his route running repertoire at the next level; that’s something for scouts to decide.
Moving past the route tree, Coleman does have some issues in traffic, though it’s difficult to determine whether that’s more so a product of the routes he tends to run (lack of experience playing in traffic), or an inherent issue. He doesn’t shy away from contact per se, but he often drops passes, exhibiting difficulty with fighting through contact/maintaining concentration to convert receptions. It doesn’t appear that Coleman will ever be a polished in-traffic possession-type from what I’ve seen. He doesn’t play with great strength or leverage in any facet, and he doesn’t do much more than get in the way as a blocker.
Although Coleman’s size doesn’t pose the same problems that it does for other prospects, it will inevitably limit him in some ways. For one, he’ll never be a high-end red zone target (though it’s of little consequence in my opinion). The bigger issue will be how the lack of size/length limits him at the line of scrimmage, and how well he can get off the press.
It’s worth mentioning that Coleman has had some issues with drops, although I feel they’re permissible given his dynamic skill-set. Often times with big-time playmakers come drop issues, and Coleman is no exception. As we touched on, Coleman has difficulty converting in traffic, but he also drops the occasional marginally-contested deep-ball. This is more than likely a concentration issue to some degree; however, Coleman simply doesn’t demonstrate consistent hands, and it’s likely that drop issues will follow him through most of his career.
Corey Coleman has the potential to be the NFL’s next premiere deep threat and dynamic playmaker. He is the trend back to smaller separators who punish the NFL’s movement towards larger defensive backs, and could prove to be a tremendous mismatch for years to come. I’d expect Coleman to deservedly go anywhere from 10-20, and he could very well be in play for the Eagles at 13. Because of Coleman’s skill set and invaluable ability to stretch the field –something this offense could use– he may be a very wise investment.