The next UDFA star for the New Orleans Saints is Brandon Coleman


The New Orleans Saints have now officially completed their first ‘business week’ of training camp. There’s been some good, some bad (injuries for instance), but happily enough there has been some spectacular as well. I HAVE to make the caveat for what I’m about to say that I am ONLY saying this based on five days of training camp and my hopes. With that said I would like to introduce any of you who don’t know yet to the Saints newest undrafted STAR…Brandon Coleman.

We knew going into last year that Coleman had some tools that made him an interesting prospect. With rare size for a receiver at 6-foot-6 and a solid frame at 225 pounds, Coleman has the kind of body that screams star in today’s NFL.  Coleman isn’t some lumbering ‘tweener’ either. He isn’t really a burner but his long strides allow him to continue to accelerate and once he gets up to speed he can pull away from pursuit to gash defenses.

Brandon Coleman dropped in the draft from being a projected mid round pick to an undrafted free agent (UDFA) in part because of a knee injury. That part of the equation was unfortunate for him, but a certain benefit for the Saints. However, the injury alone didn’t cause his fall. teams will invest a late round pick on a player with Coleman’s talents if they think he can develop, just look at what the Saints did with Davis Tull this year. No, it wasn’t just his injury that caused his fall, it was the questions.

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Coleman was, and is, a player positively overflowing with potential. Hands, speed, leaping ability, size (which you can’t teach or develop), and by all reports good character as well. There seems to be nothing Coleman lacked. Well, for one it was consistency. Coleman was certainly a physical specimen, but his routes were unpolished, hands were sporadic, and when those are added to his injury it makes him a player a team would rather make a no-risk investment in.

One of my favorite things about him as a player is that very potential that made Saints fans gush over his future going into last year’s training camp. I’m a sucker for an ‘upside’ guy as much as anyone is, but you know what gets me going even more than a guy with a great ceiling? Someone who takes their trials as a personal challenge and chooses to make the best of the opportunities given to them.

There is an old adage in the NFL among coaches: potential will get you fired. Teams that put everything on the potential that a player has without cultivating substance are doomed for failure. At the end of the day it is rarely the guys who do the best in the weight room and who put up tremendous measurables who have long career; it’s the players who take whatever they are given and get the best out of every last drop of their ability.

Nick Toon is a 6-foot-4 beast with great body control, hands, and 4.4 speed…how the heck is he not a star? There is no guarantee that he won’t become one someday, but the fact is that up to THIS point Toon has not come close to maximizing his potential. Now to be fair to Nick I could make a strong argument that he has been afforded few opportunities while Sean Payton chose to go with players he knew like the remnants of Robert Meachem.

Less than two months ago I was convinced that Brandon Coleman was going to be just another guy who looked great on paper. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson once said his opponent “looked like Tarzan and wrestled like Jane”, and sadly there are far too many paper tigers in training camps every year. I felt like Coleman was going to be one, and I am going to come out right now and say I was wrong.

Yes. We need to see him do it in preseason. Yes. He needs to do what he has been doing throughout the rest of camp and all the way into the regular season. But, sometimes you have to go out on a limb and based on the first five days of camp I am going to say that Brandon Coleman has made the leap. For a player who has all of the tools to be a star sometimes it just takes that proverbial ‘light bulb’ moment, and he appears to have had his sometime in the last year.

Coleman is absolutely tearing up camp. We have seen that before, but it isn’t that he is tearing it up, it is how he is doing so that has me so excited. According to reports Coleman is making plays all over the field and from each of the receiver positions (the slot in particular) which shows that he has put in a tremendous amount of work since being signed as a free agent to hone his craft and learn the offense. To know not only where he needs to be, but to be there at the right time takes an enormous amount of time and effort. He’s put it in.

Coleman has adopted the work ethic that players like legendary ‘captain transaction’ Andy Tanner use to keep a roster spot despite diminutive talents. Coleman’s talents are anything but dimimunitive though…they are gargantuan (literally). Coleman’s ability to actually play the game instead of simply going out and trying to out-athlete everyone he goes against is a major step, but the whole athlete thing doesn’t hurt. Just ask The Advocate’s Joel Erickson:

It’s far from the first flashy play that Coleman has made, and it won’t be the last. If you are wondering why you get a tweet instead of a vine ask the Saints staff who decided to ban fan recording of training camp for some reason. I won’t state my opinion on that, but it’s certainly disappointing from the perspective of a fan. Regardless I trust Joel and the other beat writers opinions enough, and when something is pretty much unanimous among all the sources it is usually reliable.

Is it going a little far to declare Brandon Coleman a star after five days? Of course, and if I was only basing this upon just 5 days I wouldn’t be writing this. However remember that Sean Payton traded both Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills in the offseason and of his own volition singled out both Coleman and Seantavius Jones as players who gave him the confidence to make the moves. Payton has rarely if ever been someone to engage in hyperbole and so when he says a player has shown tremendous growth..I listen.

My reason for being willing to say that Coleman is only getting started is partly based in the confidence that his head coach and quarterback have in him. It is also based in that thing we talked about earlier, potential. Coleman isn’t one of those players who is trying to compensate for lacking measurables with effort and technique, he is a player with tremendous measurables who only needed to develop some of both to flourish. He seems to have done that and so I am going to say he is ready to live up to the hype.  The bottom line is Coleman has the ability to be everything for the Saints a player like Kelvin Benjamin is for the Carolina Panthers; he isn’t quite as talented as Benjamin, but the vastly superior QB will make up any difference there.

I freely welcome anyone out there who reads this to mercilessly heckle me if it turns out that Brandon Coleman is ‘fool’s gold’ (see what I did there), but I also reserve my right to brag if I’m right. I am totally behind this kid at this point and I REALLY believe that Coleman’s hard work is going to pay off for both him and the Saints. If his hard work has caught up to his talent then make no mistake…The New Orleans Saints have found yet ANOTHER star free agent that everyone else passed on.

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