NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
If you read my last scouting report on Jay Ajayi, you know that I am looking for a 3 down running back who can take over for Stevan Ridley if he is not back next year. I really liked what I saw from Ajayi on film, but I don’t think he fits that type of runner, so my search continues. This week, we move onto Tevin Coleman, the Indiana University running back who has been putting up impressive numbers so far. Just like with Ajayi, I didn’t know much about his game or running style before watching his tape. Here are my thoughts, both good and bad.
Name: Tevin Coleman (#6)
School: Junior, Indiana University
Wt: 216 lbs.
Coleman has the size you want when looking for an every down type of back in the NFL. He has a thick lower body that generates a lot of power. Coleman has a very aggressive running style and looks to hit a defender rather than shy away from contact. He has a fluid running style, but is also able to vary his stride lengths when running in traffic or in open spaces. Coleman is a one cut and go type runner and is at his best when running down hill. He also has a great ability to get “skinny” and get his large frame through some tight running lanes. He has good, but not great speed. While he is not used a ton in the passing game, he does show natural hands catching the ball and holds up well in pass protection as well. What really impressed me watching these games was that defenses knew Coleman was really the only offensive threat that Indiana had, and yet he still has rushed for over 100 yards in every game besides the Penn St. game. In the first clip I highlighted below, you see Coleman make his one cut and get downhill and then he finishes off the run showing off some good balance and that tenacious running style. In the second clip, Coleman gets a huge hole to run through and you see his long speed.
While I like how Coleman is built, I do worry that he runs a little high. This leaves him open to taking big hits and leaving the ball exposed for defenders to try and jar loose. Coleman also lacks that initial acceleration and burst that teams covet. It takes time for him to build up to that top speed and like I mentioned earlier, his speed is good, it is not elite. I question his vision and patient as well. He needs to learn to let plays develop rather than running as hard and as fast as he can into the teeth of the defense. In the first play I highlight, you see Coleman’s lack of initial burst as acceleration as he is unable to get the stretch run going. It is also a little disconcerting that he struggles to make the defender miss. In the second clip, Coleman’s lack of vision prevents him from picking up the first down on a 3rd and short run. He had an opportunity to bounce the run to the left instead of trying to bang right up the middle. His high running style once again made him an easier runner to bring down as well.
It is hard not to like what you see from Tevin Coleman on film. He is a hard nosed runner that has been the focal point of every defense this year, and he still has found a way to be successful. Overall, the talent is there to be a good running back in the NFL. If he can learn to read the play as it develops and be patient enough to allow it to develop, then he could be very successful. I read somewhere that he has been compared to Darren McFadden in his physical stature and running style, and I think that is a great comparison. McFadden struggled with the same issues Coleman does, and if he cannot correct those subtle nuances that are so important to being a successful running back, their pro careers will compare the same as well. I think Coleman shows the qualities of an every down back and if I was giving Coleman a final grade today, I would put him in the late 2nd, early third area.