Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
The first round of the NFL Draft is Thursday night and there is no shortage of opinions about how teams will utilize their highly-prized draft picks. Prognosticators all around the nation have prophesied over a college football player's future pro career before they have even stepped foot out on the NFL gridiron. They confidently declare which athlete is the best at his position, which is a sleeper, and which one is most likely to bust. And while it's always interesting to read what they have to say, it often does not pan out the way many have predicted. Too many variables factor into the success and longevity of a player's career, far beyond just their raw talent and ability.
This is not meant to say that these people do not study this stuff diligently, but many times make poor assumptions about a player or their supporting cast in college. It's not a shocker to Hoosier fans when they point out that the Indiana passing game took a major step back in 2014, making it pretty much a foregone conclusion that running back Tevin Coleman would be handed the ball. However, to discredit the offensive line like some have, is something I think the Hoosiers should take exception, as the line last year featured at least two future NFL players.
Nonetheless, here is what many are saying about Coleman, when he is likely to get drafted, and how he projects to the next level.
ESPN's Todd McShay writes that when Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
"He's a little like Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson in terms of his ability to accelerate quickly through the hole and break off a big gain," McShay wrote. "I don't think Coleman is a complete back, as he doesn't have ideal power and balance and he's a little bit high-cut, but he's an elite breakaway threat that a team would do well to draft later on Day 2."
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein
"In the NFL, running backs are either creators or tackle breakers, and according to STATS data Coleman was neither," Zierlein wrote. "Coleman broke a tackle or made someone miss on just 12.2 percent of his carries. Melvin Gordon, Jay Ajayi and Todd Gurley all finished at just over 21 percent, while Duke Johnson clocked in at 19 percent. If Coleman gets in the right scheme, he has a chance to become an electric ball carrier with home-run potential on any given carry. However, if he doesn't show more wiggle or physicality through contact, scheme won't matter."
2015 NFL Rookie Predictions: Tevin Coleman has skills to Surprise
"Aggressive, relentless north-south runner who isn't shy about contact. Pedal-to-metal accelerator (4.39 40-yard dash) who explodes through tight spaces and leaves second/third-tier defenders eating dust in the open-field, a true home-run hitter. Patience, vision and change-of-direction not outstanding but solid. Balanced with well-built frame (5-foot-11, 206 pounds). Versatile. He grabbed 54 passes over three seasons. Relatively low mileage left plenty of tread on the tires. Strong grip. Fumbled once every 65 carries. Commendable pass-blocking technique. Tough. Tough. Tough."
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S 2015 NFL DRAFT POSITIONAL RANKINGS: RUNNING BACK
8. Tevin Coleman, Indiana: A 2,000-yard rusher himself last season, Coleman might be the prime example of how difficult it is to predict how far this group will fall after Gurley and Gordon. As early as, say, the second round, a team could fall in love with Coleman's physical style and penchant for turning short gains into game-changing plays. The league also might decide Coleman doesn't have the NFL-caliber instincts several other backs feature, leaving the Indiana product available on the draft's third day. Ask five different people for their expectations of Coleman's rookie season and it's quite possible you'll get five very different answers.
Projection: Early fourth round
Rotoworld's NFL Draft Cheatsheet: Running Back
"Normally I hesitate at this question. Every player this is being considered in the NFL Draft has traits that make them interesting, and that makes this question one that I can get wrong in a big way. This year though, I have no reservations saying Indiana RB Tevin Coleman is the most overrated running back in the class."
Individual Team Reports
Atlanta Falcons could target Tevin Coleman, other Big Ten Running Back
"'For us, we’re going to be wide-zone team, so we like guys who can make the cut and then play aggressive with the ball in their hands. Does that mean the guy is 230, 215? It’s a little different in that way. … It’s really one of the most fun positions to evaluate, in my opinion, because they’re coming from different schemes. Once you see the ball in their hands and that aggressive style comes out, that’s the guys that I love to evaluate at running back. And to see them pass protect, that’s what I’m talking about with the aggressiveness with and without the ball. That mindset, I love seeing those guys.'"
"Coleman likely is the key guy to watch in the equation."
HOUSTON TEXANS' PROSPECT OF THE DAY: TEVIN COLEMAN BY JOHN HARRIS
"This is one of the deepest running back classes we've ever seen in an NFL Draft and Coleman sort of epitomizes the wide, depth and breadth of this group. In short, he is more explosive and dangerous with the potential to take every run the distance, in addition to be a more than capable receiver out of the backfield. He had 25 receptions which was second on the team in 2014. Combine the two skills and he's a ready made, true next level threat."
Patriots Draft Series: Tevin Coleman
"He’s the full package. He can run, catch the ball out of the backfield, and block. He’s very good at blitz pickup, which is a key component to any offense that throws a lot, but especially the Patriots, who need to keep Tom Brady upright and unscathed."
Even after a historic season, some are not convinced that Coleman makes for a good pro prospect, while others believe he has the play-making ability to step in from day one and make a difference. This is what makes drafting such an inexact science, because outside of the first ten or so picks, and sometimes not even then, there is usually very little consensus about a player's ability to transition to and flourish at the next level. My prediction, whoever ends up selecting Coleman, is going to be very happy they did.