After the Atlanta Falcons drafted Tevin Coleman with the 73rd overall pick in the NFL Draft on Friday night, Caleb Rutherford of The Falcoholic, SBN's Falcons blog, analyzed the pick and had some critical words about the former Hoosier standout and how he fits in to the team's plans. Rutherford's concerns were based primarily around team fit and value in the draft, but honestly I thought they were a bit of an overreaction. Thus, I'm going to go through his analysis now and try to ease his and other Falcons fans' minds.
As of this pick, Eli Harold and that one guy from UCLA are still on the board. I'm not a huge fan of this pick in terms of fit. Talent-wise, he's probably the best running back remaining, but you're telling me this team couldn't find some defensive player (Especially ones with 2nd round talent like Harold and UCLA-guy) that would help us instead of a running back, where we don't really have a burning need?
Know who else had "second round talent" and got drafted in the third? That's right - Tevin Coleman. The Falcons used their first two picks on defense, so it's not like they were totally avoiding that side of the ball. Obviously they need to improve across the board on D, and with a new defensive-mind coach in Dan Quinn, they likely will. That being said, judging from the times I watched the Falcons last season, I'd disagree that RB is not a "burning need" for them. Stephen Jackson didn't have a great season last year with only 700 yards on 3.7 YPC, but he carried the load for them last year, and now he's no longer with the team. Additionally, Jacquizz Rodgers got several carries last year, and he is no longer on the Falcons either. In total, the Falcons were 24th in the league in rushing yards and 21st in average yards per carry. They'll need to go beyond just replacing the production that Jackson gave them, and a top RB like Coleman can help them do so.
I said this last night, but I guess this group doesn't want Antone Smith running the ball either. Devonta Freeman is THE perfect zone blocking scheme back, whereas Tevin Coleman is the opposite of a zone blocking scheme back. He runs with reckless abandon without patience. That's not what we want in a ZBS back!
Whoa, hot takes are flying back and forth in that paragraph. I know Indiana football isn't on the map nationally, but the Hoosiers have used zone blocking under coach Kevin Wilson and offensive coordinator Kevin Johns. I'm not sure how you'd classify Coleman as the opposite of a zone blocking back, because it's a scheme that plays to his strengths of finding open spaces and getting to them as quickly as possible. Here's Coleman talking to media about zone plays during the NFL Combine back in February:
What is your favorite running play?
"Probably 57 Queen."
Tell me a little about it.
"It's an outside zone play."
Do you like the outside zone plays because you have the chance to use your vision and then burst through the hole?
And later on in the interview:
How does the zone blocking scheme fit the way you run?
"Oh, that fits a lot because I'm a guy that loves outside zone and has great vision and I love to read blocks."
How do you assess your blocking ability?
"I'm a great pass protector, so I don't have any problems with that at all."
As for his "reckless abandon without patience" running style, I'd also have to disagree. One of my complaints about the IU offense in general is that it can be impatient, but if being impatient also means scoring points in flashes, when it gets you 6 points on the board then it's hard to complain. Coleman did that 15 times last year, which is four more rushing TDs than the entire Atlanta Falcons team had in 2014. Also, what exactly does the first part of that sentence mean? Do 4 fumbles in 270 plays count as "reckless abandon?" Alternatively, if "reckless abandon" means still tearing through other B1G defenses who knew he was the only real weapon on IU's offense, then I don't think that's a bad thing.
Hard to say whether or not he or Freeman will start. Freeman does not have ideal size, but he's better for a zone blocking scheme than Coleman. Coleman fits the Antone Smith role...but we already have him. I think he'll come in and share carries with Freeman and push Antone to the 3rd back role...again. I don't like it, but that is now reality for us.
Antone Smith had 23 carries all of last season, and has had 29 total carries in his career. And unfortunately, at age 29, he is getting up there in terms of age for an NFL running back. He doesn't sound like he'd be a long-term solution in Atlanta. I think Coleman and Freeman have the potential to make a great 1-2 punch in the Atlanta backfield for the next few years, but as a rookie last season, Freeman could not break into the starting role even though Jackson was a shell of his former self.
I think Coleman's athletic ability (his senior highlights are ridiculous) will serve a good purpose for us, but I can't shake the feeling that one of the worst defenses in 2014 could use as many draftees as possible.
We can all agree that his highlights (from his junior year, as he was an early entrant into the draft) are ridiculous. But a team can't build a defense overnight, and it takes more than just good draft picks for a defense to improve. The coaching moves will definitely help with this.
I give it a C. Not thrilled about the pick (I do like the player), but his blazing speed will make plays for us.
It certainly will. But a C grade for a 2,000-yard running back who fell to round 3 even though he was expected to go earlier, and to a Falcons team that didn't have a great run game last year, seems harsh.