I can’t remember the last Rutgers game I had access to, but I think Tom Savage was the quarterback. He’s since transferred twice, from Rutgers to Arizona to Pittsburgh. Either way its been a while. This weekend I read Tony Pauline’s latest piece for SI.com where he singles out CFB’s week seven ‘risers and sliders’. Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman was listed among the ‘risers':
“Coleman is in the midst of a breakout season and the big-play threat is making scouts take notice of his talents. He’s a big bodied wide out (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) who is becoming more consistent. Coleman turned in his most productive game of the year during the victory over Syracuse, with six catches for 104 yards (17.3 average). In six games this season Coleman has averaged 15.4 yards on 18 receptions, five of which resulted in scores. He possesses the physical skills to line up as a No. 1 wide out in the NFL and his game comes with great upside potential.”
I’d not come across Coleman before – a redshirt sophomore listed at 6-5 by Pauline but also touted at 6-6 and 220lbs by ESPN. There’s a lot of depth in the receiver class for 2013, but no stand-out player you feel like you just have to have. Coleman could fill that hole. JMPasq has supplied some tape (see below) and it’s obvious there’s a lot to like about this guy, he has tremendous upside. Of course, he may not declare for next years draft as a second year starter. It’s hard to turn down the chance to be a top-15 pick, though. If he gets that kind of reassurance from the draft committee in the new year, he may be tempted to turn pro.
Coleman had a bit of a slow start to the season, one of the reasons he’s probably still floating under the radar. Against Tulane, Howard and South Florida he registered just six catches for 118 yards – although he did score three touchdowns. In his next three games – against Arkansas, Connecticut and Syracuse – he has 18 catches for 264 yards and a further two touchdowns. It’s not the kind of prolific stat-line that tempted other redshirt sophomore’s to declare (eg, Michael Crabtree, Earl Thomas) but Coleman’s strength is not in statistics – it’s in physical upside and limitless potential.
You’re unlikely to find another 6-6 receiver that can run as well as this. Usually receivers this tall are thick set or skinny, there’s rarely an in-between. Coleman has the ideal frame in that he’s well proportioned and not heavy or skinny, allowing him to remain agile in breaks/routes or when running in the open-field. He’s a match-up terror against pretty much any cornerback due to his height and reach, but he can also get downfield and create separation. Most big wide-outs get tagged as possession receivers, but Coleman averaged 33 yards per reception (!!!) last season and is working at 16 yards per catch this year.
If you want a good example of just how athletic this guy is, check the touchdown reception at 0:42 in the Arkansas video. It’s a simple receiver screen to the right and he simply runs past the cornerback and away from the defense for a big touchdown. Check the same video at 1:42 and you’ll find a touchdown against Iowa State where he exploits his height and reach in single coverage to grab a deep ball and sprint into the end zone for near enough a 90 yard score. If dominating single coverage isn’t good enough for you, go to 0:37 against Connecticut and check out the big play made in tight double coverage.
Still not convinced? Fast forward to 1:53 in the UConn tape and watch him take a 93 yard catch and run to the house. He finds space at the second level, runs through three defensive backs and out-sprints all of them for a touchdown. Watch it again. And again.
Apart from the obvious physical advantages, the thing I really like about this guy is he’s a natural hands catcher. Nothing is coming into his chest, he’s reaching out and plucking the ball from the air. There are a couple of muffed catches in the videos below and certainly he can work on his concentration in certain situations to make sure he completes the reception, but overall he flashes the ability to use soft hands or snare a fast ball. Check 1:16 against UConn to see evidence of strong mitts to grab a difficult catch under pressure.
He runs inside, he can go deep, he can be an effective red zone target. He gets open, he can play physical when required and he’s got enough deep speed to make big plays down the field. This is the most exciting NFL Draft prospect I’ve seen since scouting Jarvis Jones last year. This is the kind of prospect where you start to consider an Atlanta Falcons-Julio Jones type move up the board. If he declares for 2013 – and that’s a big if – this is the kind of player the Seahawks need to be aggressive in targeting. You can teach him to be an effective blocker at that size, but you also provide Russell Wilson with a big-time weapon and playmaker on the outside. He has Calvin Johnson-like potential – seriously – because he has such a incredible combination of size/speed.
Brandon Coleman could be the most exciting offensive player in college football. He could be a future NFL star. And if he declares for 2013, the Seahawks should be ready to make their move. This guy is unreal.