Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Tabbed as a third- or fourth-round pick in May's draft, Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman surprisingly went undrafted.
After finishing his junior season with 34 catches for 538 yards and four touchdowns, Coleman opted to forgo his senior season despite having lingering issues from a knee injury he suffered last spring.
At 6'6" and 225 pounds, Coleman fits perfectly in the mold of the NFL's new-age wide receivers like Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery. While he does have good size, one of the biggest questions surrounding Coleman, outside of his knee, is whether he has enough speed to create separation in the NFL.
According to NFL.com, Coleman ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the scouting combine back in February. While his 40-yard dash time wasn't among the best at the combine, it is still an above-average time for a player of his size.
Regardless of the reasons why he fell off of draft boards, Coleman has realized that the past is the past and all he can do is look forward.
“I don’t have any control over being drafted or not," Coleman told ESPN.com's Mike Triplett. "But I did everything I could to prepare for it. And now it’s just, I’ve got an opportunity to play, and I’m gonna take advantage of that.”
While it is still early in the evaluation process, Saints head coach Sean Payton has taken notice of Coleman.
“He’s a big target,” Payton said, via Triplett. “With him, there’s just a handful of things were working on with regards to his transition. But he’s picked things up well, seems to be moving around well.”
With guys like Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Brandin Cooks, Robert Meachem and Nick Toon ahead of him on the depth chart, it appears that it will be very difficult for Coleman to get any playing time in 2014.
Despite the challenging competition, Coleman has all of the tools to be an effective wide receiver and may be able to use his size to carve out a niche in certain packages.
“There’s pressure whether you’re drafted or undrafted,” Coleman said, via Triplett. “But you’ve just gotta go out there and be confident in yourself. And that’s what I’m gonna do.”
While the odds right now may be stacked against him, his biggest asset is his physical presence. While teams will be targeting Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham in the red zone, Coleman can give the Saints a big-bodied target who has strong hands and can use his frame to position himself to make plays.
It will be an uphill battle for Coleman, but a strong showing in training camp and the preseason will make it too hard for Sean Payton to not get him on the field.