Jun 10, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman (16) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
We have all read the stats. Brandon Coleman is 6 foot 6, speedy with a catch radius of 34 inches. Nice looking kid with an open and sunny smile who spent his college years helping inner city kids in a Christian ministry. What’s not to love? Heck, I want to elect him President.
He dominated Rutgers football, tying the school record for 20 touchdowns. Projected to go in the mid rounds of the draft until he was injured, he went undrafted. He received interest from the Patriots, Chargers, Rams but landed with the Saints whose history of undrafted free agents making the roster drew him. This is the definition of potential–and an intriguing conundrum.
In OTA’s and mini-camp, he dropped passes but in training camp he hauled some in catching a touch down but continues to struggle. He definitely has had quality moments and undeniable speed. His CBS draft profile indicates …
STRENGTHS: Looks the part of an NFL split end, possessing broad shoulders, long arms and great height. Towers over cornerbacks, showing the ability to reach over them and pluck the ball. Possesses a deceptive gait and surprising straight-line speed which helps him sneak over the top for big plays. Can stick his foot in the ground and create space for himself, especially on slants, where he can use his size to shield defenders from the ball. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Extends his arms to latch and control defenders as a run blocker, though too often he’ll stop moving his feet on contact and fail to sustain.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t play with the toughness and physicality one might expect given his stature. Is a long-strider with build-up rather than explosive straight-line speed. Struggles to sink his hips and explode back towards the ball, making him a tough target on routes in which he turns back towards the quarterback. Relies on his size to box-out defenders and is too easily knocked off balance
Few receivers with Coleman’s size have found success in the NFL. Vincent Jackson is an exception and the team that selects Coleman will be hoping that he’ll prove the same … Coleman possesses many traits to intrigue scouts but may not be the sum of his parts. He struggles to gain separation – especially against press coverage – and with more and more clubs taking this approach on defense … (he could struggle—my paraphrase)
Coleman does have potential to be developed. The question is will the Saints be able to afford the roster spot? He is not likely to contribute on special teams as a returner in the current year nor would he be expected to be a reliable starter. I do not see a him as a 2014 contributor but will need (as most wide receivers do) time to realize his gifts. In the past, I have believed he would be a perfect candidate for the practice squad. However as a free agent, the Saints may not be a part of his development. As for potential–you just absolutely want a 6’6″ speedy guy who can pluck balls over the heads of defenders but he is he more Jon Baldwin or Calvin Johnson?
Whose roster spot do you give him? Colston, No. Stills, No. Cooks, No. Meachem, No. Morgan, No. Toon, No.
I can’t find any scenario where you would give up one of these receivers who have experience and can contribute except for perhaps Toon. Watching Toon’s 2013 season, he had dropped ball as did other receivers. However, Toon’s sample size of receptions is limited–making each catch or drop loom larger than it really is. But I would say Toon is further along and would benefit from more reps and an opportunity to develop chemistry with Brees. And at 6’4″ Toon has great size. The likelihood he would contribute is large, and he has had and excellent camp.
I would not give up either Morgan or Meachem in a win now year while Drew Brees is at his maximum potential. You will need productive veterans on the squad. Meachem is productive and has hauled in some great passes when called upon. Morgan has done it in the past, and there is no reason to assume this will not continue.
Keeping Brandon Coleman as part of the Saints would be priority for me but I have no idea how Mickey Loomis will solve this problem. It is an intriguing and good conundrum–one which all good general managers would welcome.