Brandon Coleman got lost in the washer last season as talent at the top end of the Saints’ receiver group dominated targets.
But 2017 could be a very different year for the Saints offense. And if Brandon Coleman can’t emerge now, with all that’s lined up for him, he likely never will.
It’s not just trading away Brandin Cooks, though that helps. It’s the rest of the offseason moves. The additions at running back, to the offensive line. The Saints figure to rely more heavily on the running game in 2017. That suggests Coleman should have the best opportunity for production that he’s had in his career.
Coleman is far and away the most effective run blocking receiver on this roster. Snead isn’t bad, and Thomas has all the tools. But Coleman gets it done better than either. And while I haven’t studied Ted Ginn Jr. enough to comment on his abilities, he’s never been known as a blocker.
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After the additions of Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara, opposing defenses are going to have their eye on the backfield. Sean Payton will use formations, as he always does, to force the defense’s hand. And Brandon Coleman will play a big role in that. Especially if the uncertainty at tight end doesn’t clear up. Coleman will be a part of their early-down run-heavy sets, and will be the most dangerous receiver out of the play-action.
Because, remember, Coleman has a lot of tools to be an effective receiver in this offense. He’s got amazing size and can run a number of Payton’s favorite routes very well. The question has always been his hands. But he caught a higher percentage of his targets than Brandin Cooks did in 2016. He’s never going to supplant Thomas or even Snead on the depth chart, but he could easily emerge as one of the Saints’ most important matchup-dictating weapons.