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One of the most intriguing running backs in the 2015 draft class is Indiana’s top rusher Tevin Coleman.  Unfortunately, he suffered a minor injury right before the Combine and did not participate in tcolemanany drills.  To get a better idea of skills this talented runner brings to the next level, I watched four of his games against Indiana State, Ohio State, Iowa, and my alma mater Bowling Green.  Here is what I saw:

RB Tevin Coleman, Indiana 5′ 11″ 206 lbs.

Cons: For a running back, Coleman has very small legs.  This does not seem to affect him while running between the tackles, but does limit him in short yardage and goal line situations.  Another area that hinders Coleman is that he is not much of a pass blocker.  The runner does not get low or square his shoulders before meeting the defender trying to get to the quarterback.  On every play I saw, he would either get knocked back or got avoided by the blitzer.  This would limit him to a two down role in the NFL if he cannot protect the signal caller.  When used as a receiver, Coleman caught the ball with his body on over half of his receptions.  He needed to slow down to catch the ball, instead of making the reception in stride.

Pros: This back is the most explosive runner in his class.  He is very smooth thru the line of scrimmage and gets small in the hole.  Coleman is a better outside runner than an inside runner though.  If you want an example of what a one cut and go type of back looks like, watch Coleman against a strong defense like Ohio State where he still managed to rip off chunks of yardage with ease.  The runner always falls forward, protects the ball, and fights for extra yards while contorting his body (sometimes taking too much abuse).  Coleman has bouncy feet that help him change directions, but is not super explosive side to side.  This causes him to get strung out by more disciplined defenses; however if the back can get past the initial line of defense, Coleman has the burst to jet down the sidelines for a long touchdown.

The runner is quite effective running counter plays, which allow him to run against the grain and get into open space more easily.  He has a good jump cut, and uses a stiff-arm to keep defenders off his body.  Coleman has excellent balance which he shows when he breaks arm tackles easily.  The back always keeps his feet chopping, while using his excellent vision to find the cut back lane to exploit.  In the open field, he finds a second, third, and sometimes fourth gear to break away from the defense and be the only one on the TV screen (that is quite rare).  While Coleman isn’t much of a pass blocker, he does block downfield once a receiver catches the ball or his quarterback is scrambling.

Overall thoughts:  Coleman is an exciting back who reminds me a bit of former Vikings runner, Robert Smith.  His breakaway speed is spectacular, but he doesn’t offer a lot in the passing game.  This greatly limits his upside and I’m afraid I need to drop him a few rungs down my rookie running back rankings.

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