Dynasty Draft Profile: Corey Coleman
March 23, 2016 | Rich Hribar
*Pro Day Results
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
After redshirting in 2012, Corey Coleman took a significant stride forward in each of the three following seasons while at Baylor. Continuous progress throughout collegiate careers is something I’m drawn to, so Coleman already has his first good mark in my book when it comes to production.
Production is something he had piles of in 2015 as he was just the ninth college receiver to total at least 1,200 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns in a single season since 2000. Amazingly, it could have actually been even better. Through the first seven weeks, prior to Seth Russell’s neck injury that shelved him for the rest of the season, Coleman was averaging 137.4 receiving yards per game with 18 touchdown receptions. In six of those seven games, he caught two or more touchdown passes. With Russell, Coleman secured 11 of 23 targets on throws 20 or more yards downfield and just three of 12 from everyone else.
Once Russell was lost, sophomore Jarrett Stidham took over and in his first game under center, Coleman hardly missed a beat, posting a season high 216 yards with another multiple touchdown game. That’s where the fun ended, however. Stidham was then lost for the season and Baylor was forced to go to their third and then fourth options at quarterback while Coleman finished with just 185 receiving yards and no touchdowns over his final four games before being shut down with a sports hernia injury. In the end, what could’ve been an unprecedented collegiate receiving season will now forever sit as a highly impressive one.
Coleman had sports hernia surgery in December, but that hasn’t shown to have any ill effects as he impressed in the drills he did participate in at the combine and in his 40-yard dash time at his pro day last week. Coleman, who was a standout sprinter and jumper in track during high school, shined in those events as he was in the top-five of all receivers at the combine in both the vertical and broad jump and if his 4.40 40-yard time at his pro day (grain of salt required) would’ve been the third fastest time after Will Fuller and Kolby Listenbee.
Grain of salt or not taken on the 40 time, we inherently know Coleman is a strong measured athlete and we know he’s bringing a lofty bed of production to the party as well. Being as good in both areas may suggest he has godly comps, but pulling up the closest objective comparisons of measured athletes and final season collegiate production entering the NFL offers an interesting return.
Of players in a similar objective bucket, Agholor and Avery were regarded as worthy investments, draft capital that many are anticipating is required to land Coleman in this draft. It’s too early to write off Agholor, but his rookie season was definitely a disappointment. Avery’s best fantasy season was finishing as the PPR38 in 2008, the only top-40 season of his career.
The comp list generates a few guys in Pilares and Dillard that arguably stacked their production systematically, much as the argument against is against what Coleman has done.
That Baylor system is what makes Coleman one of the harder receivers to decipher, too. Baylor’s system is about tempo and maximizing receiver splits, which in turn didn’t require Coleman to delve into a deep display of route running nuance while allowing him to showcase his high end athleticism. Per Pro Football Focus, two thirds of his seasonal targets came on just nine routes or a hitch, while not asked to do much else.
Corey Coleman’s stats on routes that were NOT either screens, slants, hitches or go routes: 7 of 12 targets for 153 yards and 3 TDs.
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 14, 2016
Just because Coleman wasn’t asked to run those routes, doesn’t mean that he can’t, it just places a lot more projection into his displayed physical traits than most prospects. Coleman has the kind of stop/start speed that can shine in a diverse route tree and change of direction ability can make it hard for defensive backs to mirror him intermediately while having acceleration that will eat up cushion by those who won’t attempt to.
The other element in having to project Coleman is that he’s built like an interior receiver, but doesn’t play like one. While he’s a highly aggressive player (more on this in a moment), Coleman isn’t the most comfortable player attacking the football with great technique and is especially passive with his catch technique away from the boundaries. This could all stem from the lack of consistent familiarity with those types of situations and be nothing, but it exists in the small samples Baylor’s offense provided.
His size is also slightly problematic for him strictly playing on the exterior because while it was rare for a college corner to match his athleticism, it will happen more often in the NFL. When his athleticism is able to be matched by an opposing corner, he can be physically re-routed and pressed against the boundaries by corners.
When defenders do come to the line of scrimmage and aren’t physical with him, however, they are almost assuredly going to be put into pursuit quickly.
Coleman is one of the best in this class once he has the football in his hands. In Matt Harmon’s game charting, he forced multiple missed tackles at a higher rate than any other receiver. While not a physical tackle breaker, Coleman’s elusiveness comes from that elite change of direction/acceleration when he’s in space with the ball.
Because of Baylor’s “lazy” offense, Coleman gets dinged sometimes in perception that he’s an entirely passive player. While his technique in contested catch situations isn’t always consistent, he is inherently aggressive in attacking the football on the perimeter.
Wide receiver blocking is often over and understated in evaluations, but I do want to highlight a few spots since Coleman gets a bad reputation as being a spectator a lot. Coleman’s aggressiveness also can be found within plays he doesn’t have the football. Even though Art Briles has encouraged that his receivers take plays off, Coleman isn’t always inactive when it comes to sticking his head in on defender downfield.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 18, 2016
Because there’s so much true projection in hashing out Coleman’s ceiling, that inherently makes his potential floor a lot less stable. It’s easy to understand why he can cause a schism among evaluators of any degree because not only are you projecting his tangible traits converting over into fresh opportunities, you’re also taking them from a player who’s athletic profile would normally make you want to place him in the “slot receiver” bucket. In the end, he just may be a player that ends up used the way he was in college where you take the splash production that comes with the potential limitations because what he does well is so good.
Coleman is arguably the best available receiver in rookie drafts in terms of pure upside and a top-5 player overall. In a class that I believe lacks true ceiling potential, Coleman is one of the few who have it, which elevates him over many of the floor plays that may inevitably out produce him with safe longevity, but won’t win you any weeks or leagues on their own merit. Those types of receivers definitely have their value, but I want to use my really high capital on the former type that has the highest weekly and yearly potential.