Working out Brandon Coleman might be one of the toughest things we have to do going into the 2014 draft.
We’ve talked a lot about him. He’s 6-5/6-6, 220lbs with speed to burn and physical qualities to die for. Essentially, something the Seahawks currently lack.
Pete Carroll, by his own admission, likes “the big guys”.
Coleman started the season with a sloppy (yet productive) performance against Fresno State. He then dropped off the radar with four lacklustre games where he tallied just six catches for 126 yards.
Last night he was back on form in Rutgers’ most difficult test of the season so far. He was productive against Louisville, making 66 yards on five grabs. He looked smooth, he ran good routes. It’s what we wanted to see all year.
So what is the cause of such inconsistency?
He had knee surgery in the off-season, with some observers claiming he just wasn’t the same player as a consequence. Having watched the Louisville and Fresno games, I didn’t see any hard evidence to argue for or against that. Coleman was never great when it came to short area quickness, but he has unnatural long speed for his size. He managed to get deep and create separation on a play downfield against the Bulldogs, but then dropped an easy catch.
It’d be reassuring to see him take a short pass 80-yards for a score as he’s done in the past. It might settle this particular concern. But ultimately this is a question that’ll be answered in the medical room at the combine. Teams will want to check out the injury report to see what state his knee is in. Staying healthy the rest of year can only help.
Whatever the situation, you want to see players making tangible progress. The mistakes against Fresno were alarming. While we’ve seen this guy make some incredible plays at Rutgers, he’s also good for the occasional mental lapse. Perhaps of more pressing concern is the repeated unwillingness to really high point the football. With his size and frame he should be nearly impossible to cover in jump ball situations. Yet we never really see evidence of that.
It’s kind of ‘meh’ when he should be ‘wow’.
Get your hands up, let your quarterback throw it up there. I’m craving to see it.
Right now there’s very little evidence of technical improvement made from the 2012 season. Again, the surgery possibly prevented him from putting in the time this summer. If that is the case, he has to show gradual improvement during the season. The work has to happen now.
Finally, the quarterback situation at Rutgers has to take some of the blame. The simple fact is, Gary Nova isn’t very good. And while Teddy Bridgewater did enough last night to keep his team ticking along, Nova threw four interceptions.
He’s inaccurate, he struggles under pressure, he hasn’t got a great arm and he’s frustrating to watch.
This doesn’t give Coleman a pass. Nova managed 346 passing yards against Arkansas and 283 against SMU. Of those 629 yards, Coleman had just 81.
He needs to be the #1 target. Simple as that. He’s their best receiver.
There’s quite a lot at play here that could be preventing Coleman from being the consistent target we all want to see. However, the chances are this is going to continue. Nova isn’t going to improve. The knee may or may not be an issue. And it could be argued it’s harder to make technical improvements during the season compared to focused work during camp.
He’ll probably still have two or three big games. And he’ll also have two or three where he barely registers.
This is the interesting angle though — how much are you willing to invest in potential?
The Seahawks have shown they’re willing to take a gamble. I suppose you could call it calculated risk. If the player ticks a lot of boxes but hasn’t quite got the consistent college production you want to see, do you back yourself to get it out of him at the next level? Do you back your coaches to make the required technical adjustments to uncover a gem?
Coleman has everything you want in a big receiver in terms of the physical side of the game. He can be a dynamic red zone threat. It still wouldn’t surprise me — health permitting — if he was a high draft pick.
And potentially a high draft pick for the Seattle Seahawks.
After all, John Schneider was at the Rutgers-Louisville game last night.