I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.To read more about the 2016 NFL Draft Project, Click Here.
As we continue to work our way through the wide receivers at the top of the draft, we arrive at a fantastic prospect out of Richardson by way of Baylor in the form of the playmaker, Corey Coleman. He is electric in many ways and there is no doubt when it comes to one of the NFL's most valuable resources - speed - he has it in excess amounts. He was so productive that he beat LaQuon Treadwell and Josh Doctson out for the 2015 Biletnikoff Award which is given to the top WR in the nation.
He benefited greatly by playing in the Baylor system, which is designed to isolate coverage players in space where someone with a sprinter's extra gear can blow by the exposed defenders, and Coleman did this for 3 straight seasons with a number of different Quarterbacks. This past season when Seth Russell was the QB, Russell and Coleman dominated college football with absurd levels of production. As the season went along, Coleman's production dropped as did the Baylor QBs, as well as a sports hernia injury that he first attempted to play through and then had fixed with surgery which cost him the bowl game against North Carolina.
But, being dominant at Baylor does come with a few raised eyebrows amongst the NFL scouts, who try to factor system in their evaluation and find guys that translate to the next level. Josh Gordon certainly had no issue with this adjustment - save for multiple failures of substance abuse which has him indefinitely suspended. Kendall Wright, a 1st rounder in 2012 in Tennessee started with great promise but has fizzled, and Terrance Williams has had big play potential but an uneven overall resume in Dallas. We don't draft programs, we draft players, so much can be misread when we spend too much time painting all Baylor Wide Receivers with the same brush, but one can expect that this question will be raised as it does every year with Art Briles' offensive skill-position prospects.
That said, Coleman looks like a stud in any system.
What I liked: He is just so explosive. Baylor would frequently send him on a "go" route on the first series and send a message to the secondary all day that you are going to be challenged over the top. He has such speed separation that most defensive backs will be in a retreating posture the whole day, which means that the hitches and comebacks are always open. If he is even, he is gone as this sprinter has top end speed to take the top off the defense and then the catch skills on long passes will pass the tests as he finds the ball and brings it in. He has wonderful versatility and as an underneath threat will be a handful to corral in space. He is a very tough kid and will battle you. He doesn't back down to challenges. If you do replicate the Baylor offense's ability of forcing defenses into man coverage, the short passes are dangerous as he makes his guy miss and then is gone. He can play outside, in the slot, and even takes snaps at Running Back like Randall Cobb. But, his long skills are more like a bulkier version of DeSean Jackson (without the attitude).
What I did not like:Well, as with most sprinters who are sub-200 pounds, I would not expect a ton of physicality or help in the running game, but do not underestimate him when it comes to being tough enough. He likes to battle. In other words, he can do it, but it is rather rare. He will fight for the ball in tight spaces as he has a thickness to his built that allows him to compete well for slants, but it would be foolish to compare his muscle with LaQuon Treadwell. He is just a different type of guy. He is all about speed with ball skills, with hands that generally meet the standard but with occasional lapses in concentration, as he appears set on running before he has the ball. It isn't a big deal, but it shows up once in a while.
Summary and Potential Fit For the Cowboys: Every team in the league wants a big play threat and a home run hitter. Coleman scored 20 TDs last season and had them all by November 5th. He is dynamic and explosive and maybe the best over-the-top threat in this draft, with plenty of impressive skills to compliment it as a slot receiver and a WR screen specialist. In the NFL, you cannot have enough top end speed and guys who can take you the length of the field on 1-play. We talk about receivers getting separation from their man, well, either you have a safety over the top of Corey Coleman or he is going to get open. He has to be in the top handful of receivers in this draft and likely not to get out of the 1st round. But, if he does, the Cowboys would love this to start Round 2.