Dec 28, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman (17) catches a pass against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the game in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aristide Economopoulos/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has done it again. The Saints managed to sign Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman after the 2014 NFL Draft. It’s a fantastic signing because he’s very similar to Carolina Panthers first round pick wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Coleman was projected to be drafted towards the end of the second day of the draft.
What scared scouts off was the torn meniscus in his right knee that slowed him down during his junior year. He had only 34 catches, 538 yards, and 4 four touchdowns for the Scarlet Knights in 2013 after posting 43 receptions 718 yards, and 10 touchdowns a year ago. Coleman ran well at the NFL Combine with a 4.56 40 speed, 21 bench press reps, and 32 1/2 inch vertical but it wasn’t enough to convince teams across the league that he was draft-worthy.
Of course draft worthiness is very subjective. Just from comparing both Benjamin’s and Coleman’s numbers from the NFL Combine they both seem like similar players on paper. It’s only when you look at the tape that you start seeing the differences. Despite Coleman being a bigger receiver, he is a better route runner in terms of getting in and out of his breaks down the field.
He hasn’t proven he can win the jump balls like Kelvin Benjamin and his catching could use some work, but he has the raw ability to become a good possession receiver like Saints starter Marques Colston. He isn’t a blazer or especially quick, but he knows when and how to create separation with his speed. He’ll need to prove that he can be much better against press coverage than he was at Rutgers.
Coleman might take some years to develop into a starter. The only question mark I have about him making the team is his mental aptitude. He has great work ethic, but there seemed to be times when he was not on the same page as his quarterback on routes. He’s also not especially aggressive whether it’s going after the ball or blocking the defense. I could see the Saints using him as a WR/TE Flex but if he can’t pick up Payton’s offense he’ll be gone before September.