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Why Tevin Coleman Projects As Nfl's Top Rookie Rb, Roy Candidate


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The most likely running back prospect from the 2015 NFL draft to produce at a high level early in his career isn't the St. Louis Rams' Todd Gurley or the San Diego Chargers' Melvin Gordon.

After breaking the recent bias against first-round running backs, those early entrants to this year's draft are natural selections and maybe even favorites to win the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year after the upcoming season.

Yet, it's a recent third-round pick who owns the highest ceiling after landing in the perfect situation.

The Atlanta Falcons' Tevin Coleman couldn't have asked to be placed in a better environment or scheme to start his career.

"I'm going to be the best rookie running back (from this class)," Colemansaid in an interview with D.J. Shockley of AtlantaFalcons.com. "I'm coming out to be the starter, and I'm going to work like the starter."

Coleman exploded during his junior campaign with 2,036 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns before he declared his intentions to enter the NFL draft. His overall production was amazing considering the fact he played the final seven games with a broken sesamoid bone in his right foot, according to Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier.

No one can question Coleman's toughness after playing through a broken foot. Plus, he still produced at an elite level. His average yards per game actually increased by two yards after the injury, and he posted three 200-plus-yard games after the fact, including a 307-yard effort against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and 228 yards against the eventual national champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Coleman also produced even when the conferences's top defenses game-planned around the running back's talent. The Big Ten's best couldn't completely stop him. Some of the teams couldn't even slow him down.

As an NFL prospect, though, there was at least one major concern about his game beyond his injury history.

"The biggest concern for teams about Coleman is the uncertainty about whether he can become a more patient runner and improve as a tackle-breaker," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote. "Has the burst and top-end speed to be a game-changing running back for a team looking for a workhorse, but questions about his 'make you miss' talent could hurt his draft stock.

Due to this specific issue and generally being considered a high-cut runner at 5'11" and 206 pounds, Coleman is often compared to Darren McFadden.

What do Coleman and McFadden have in common this year?

They will be playing in heavy zone-blocking schemes with previous histories of churning out prolific rushers.

In Coleman's specific case, he'll be playing in the Falcons' new scheme under offensive coordinator Kyle Shahanan.

The Shanahan system became well-known over the past 20 years due to the success of Shanahan's father, Mike, and his disciple, Gary Kubiak. Kyle simply followed in his father's footsteps by utilizing the NFL's purest zone-blocking scheme. It relies heavily on the zone stretch as well as the inside zone with quarterback bootleg action and a major emphasis on play action, which is all set up by the team's running attack.

In this particular system's history, stars were made out of average backs like Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns and Alfred Morris.

It also took talented backs like Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis and ArianFoster to another level.

Over his last three seasons as a play-caller, Shanahan's rushing offenses finished first, fifth and 17th overall.

Whether it was a one-back or running-back-by-committee approach, the team's top ball-carriers produced at least 1,000 or more yards in five of his seven seasons at the helm of an offense.

There is a possibility Coleman will share the starting role this season withDevonta Freeman, who was a fourth-round pick by the Falcons last year. The two are expected to enter training camp in an open competition to find out exactly who is lead-back material.

But Coleman owns a slight edge on two fronts: familiarity and speed.

First, the Indiana product played in a prolific spread offense that took advantage of his abilities as a one-cut, downhill runner.

Shanahan's system, meanwhile, will ask Coleman to remain patient for holes to open. But once a seam opens, it's off to the races.

Below is an example of a typical zone stretch that is the fundamental building block of Shanahan's offensive scheme:

49dd0bbc81ac3341e54aa1b58f7d9fbb_origina
Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Browns zone stretch under Kyle Shanahan

During this particular play, the running back was asked to read his blocks and commit downhill once he assessed the best available option. Clearly, there are at least three holes Ben Tate could have chosen from during the play. It's initially designed to go outside the blocks made by the right tackle and tight end, but the veteran can turn it up into any available crease.

Coleman is already comfortable with these concepts due to Indiana's heavy emphasis on zone-blocking principles.

When asked about how he fits into the Falcons' offensive scheme, the running back was very confident in how his game translates to the next level, via Fox Sports' Knox Bardeen:

Tevin Coleman on his running style: "I can run an inside zone, an outside zone, pass protection, catching the ball." #Falcons

Let's take peek at Indiana's offense, which should look familiar:

3cdae76303b1ed1a5424360a44871264_crop_ex
Credit: DraftBreakdown.com
Tevin Coleman runs outside zone.

The above play was a traditional outside zone run. The biggest difference between this particular play and the previous example is Coleman initially aligned alongside the quarterback in a shotgun formation. Thus, his aiming points as a runner differ slightly compared to a true zone-stretch play. In fact, most of Indiana's offense was based out of the shotgun formation, and there will be a slight learning curve for Coleman.

However, the overall concept is the same.

Coleman's initial aiming point was outside the widest blocker, but he was granted the freedom to bend the run back if a seam appeared. Those options weren't needed since the left tackle did a splendid job driving the defensive end off the ball, which allowed Coleman to break a 14-yard run against the Buckeyes' athletic defense.

The running back also showed toughness by slamming the ball into the teeth of the defense during inside zone runs.

Against Ohio State, Coleman consistently made quick and hard cuts. The screen capture included below is a simple inside zone run:

ace080785f7540152bf701888469c7f6_crop_ex
Credit: DraftBreakdown.com
Tevin Coleman runs inside zone.

All of Indiana's offensive linemen stepped left after the snap and drove the defenders in that general direction. Coleman initially stepped left after receiving the handoff but immediately cut to his right when he saw a slight crease. While this particular play only gained a yard or two, it displayed Coleman's decisiveness as a downhill runner.

A familiarity with the Falcons' running concepts will allow Coleman to transition to the professional ranks rather seamlessly.

But other backs had the potential to produce in Shanahan's system. What makes Coleman special compared to anyone else the Falcons could have chosen in the draft?

Breakaway speed.

Coleman even broke a 90-yard run against the Buckeyes' talented defense (see: below).

Once the running back prospect was fully recovered from his football injury and worked out for NFL scouts on April 15, he blazed a 4.35-40-second 40-yard dash, according to the The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

The only back with that type of top-end speed to play in the Shanahan system was Portis, who rushed for 1,508 yards as a rookie during the 2002 season.

It's a lofty comparison, but these two athletes were very similar in size and skill set coming into the NFL. Portis enjoyed plenty of early success during his first two seasons with the Broncos, and Coleman owns similar potential.

Development from a prospect into a legitimate NFL player isn't simply about raw natural ability. The situation in which a player is placed is vitally important for that prospect to mature and get the most out of his overall talent.

The Falcons' third-round selection presents a perfect blend of overall talent and situation.

Coleman might not have been the first or second running back chosen in the draft, but he's the most likely to succeed and perform far beyond expectations.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brentsobleski.

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Jerry, thanks for the post & sharing it. Great article regarding Coleman's fit & upside in Shanny's ZBS.

"I'm going to be the best rookie running back (from this class)," Coleman said in an interview with D.J. Shockley of AtlantaFalcons.com. "I'm coming out to be the starter, and I'm going to work like the starter."

There is a possibility Coleman will share the starting role this season with Devonta Freeman, who was a fourth-round pick by the Falcons last year. The two are expected to enter training camp in an open competition to find out exactly who is lead-back material. But Coleman owns a slight edge on two fronts: familiarity and speed.

The Falcons' third-round selection presents a perfect blend of overall talent and situation.Coleman might not have been the first or second running back chosen in the draft, but he's the most likely to succeed and perform far beyond expectations.

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"Coleman also produced even when the conferences's top defenses game-planned around the running back's talent. The Big Ten's best couldn't completely stop him. Some of the teams couldn't even slow him down."

Gives me chills. Although the room I'm in is pretty cold too.

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https://nosebleednotebook.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/diagnosing-running-back-evaluation-through-the-lens-of-indianas-tevin-coleman/

There's another good article. Yeah, I think I am the head of his fan club now, lol. (And funny because I lobbied against him before the draft. *Holds head down in shame.*) Want him to destroy the haters so bad. biggrin.png


Man his speed is ridiculous in that highlight video. He made everyone else look like they were walking. lol

On a broken toe.

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Dang, not even into preseason yet, and already going with offensive rookie of the year? Let's wait and see how our o-lines gels in training camp and preseason. We don't even have a starting LG yet. i love Coleman just as the next person on this board, but let's hold back some of this hype.

I'm going to blame some of this hype of that Tevin Coleman Youtube video.

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Dang, not even into preseason yet, and already going with offensive rookie of the year? Let's wait and see how our o-lines gels in training camp and preseason. We don't even have a starting LG yet. i love Coleman just as the next person on this board, but let's hold back some of this hype.

I'm going to blame some of this hype of that Tevin Coleman Youtube video.

YEAH BUT....lol. No, but seriously lets wait for the season to get here before we start crown his a**. I'm still worried about injuries.

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Dang, not even into preseason yet, and already going with offensive rookie of the year? Let's wait and see how our o-lines gels in training camp and preseason. We don't even have a starting LG yet. i love Coleman just as the next person on this board, but let's hold back some of this hype.

I'm going to blame some of this hype of that Tevin Coleman Youtube video.

I agree, but everyone's just so bored right now since it's the offseason that there's nothing better to do.

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YEAH BUT....lol. No, but seriously lets wait for the season to get here before we start crown his a**. I'm still worried about injuries.

His upright running style is a concern. Hope he can more consistently lower his pad level and add about 10 lbs if possible. He also rarely ever sees or takes cutbacks for some reason. Doesn't make the first guy in the backfield miss enough. I would like to be in the room when the Falcons go over some film with him. One thing we don't know is how he was being coached.

There ya go. cool.png

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His ability to break a tackle is not. This is the NFL there are not gaping holes without a superior OL. The guy ran for 228 vs OSU with 17 of the carries for 3 yards or less. He won't help out if his 1st down run is for 1 or 2 yards.

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His ability to break a tackle is not. This is the NFL there are not gaping holes without a superior OL. The guy ran for 228 vs OSU with 17 of the carries for 3 yards or less. He won't help out if his 1st down run is for 1 or 2 yards.

You mean he is not Marshawn Lynch and won't bowl people over. But where did he rank in YAC nationally? That will tell you if he can break tackles and what he can do when he does.

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Coleman would be better served to work out hard, come into camp in great shape ready to prove it and just keep his mouth shut before then.

Why?

Kid can say whatever he wants. It doesn't better serve him to stay quiet. Might better serve yourself and other people, but a little smack talk never hurt anyone.

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Why?

Kid can say whatever he wants. It doesn't better serve him to stay quiet. Might better serve yourself and other people, but a little smack talk never hurt anyone.

Just my opinion, but my experience is most success comes not from bravado, but from hard work. He's a 3rd round pick, passed over by 72 other players, 6 of whom were RBs. I would use that to fuel me rather than talk like you're the heir apparent .

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