Often times in football, a player's productivity is discounted because of the cast around them. This was certainly the case with Dallas Cowboys' undrafted free agent defensive tackle Davon Coleman.
Coleman was apart of a very talented defense at Arizona State. Players like Will Sutton and Carl Bradford overshadowed Coleman.
Coleman's production and film reveal a player who should have had a higher grade in the draft. The only viable reason for Coleman not getting drafted is that scouts and front offices attributed his success to playing on the same defense with players like Sutton and Bradford.
However, Coleman deserves way more credit than he got for how well he played while at Arizona State.
The good news for the Cowboys is that this perception may have led to the Cowboys once again finding another impact player through undrafted free agency.
Now let's take an in depth look at Coleman's stats, measurements and film to find where he would best fit along the Cowboys' defensive line.
|Year||Tackles||Tackles for Loss||Sacks||Production Ratio|
Typically, a defensive tackle with a production ratio, over 1.0, is viewed as a disruptive player. Production ratio ((sacks + tackles for loss)/total games played) is a statistic that measures how disruptive the player was. Coleman's 2013 campaign proved to be very disruptive. Coleman's production ratio was better than players like Ra'Shede Hageman, Dominique Easley and Timmy Jernigan. This further points to the fact that Coleman should have at least got drafted.
Coleman's height and weight point to him being more of a 3-technique defensive tackle than 1-technique. His arm length is not ideal and will likely lead to him having trouble against larger armed offensive lineman.
Pro Day Results
|40-yard dash||10-yard split||Bench Press||Broad Jump||Three-cone drill||20-yard shuttle|
|5.2 seconds||1.73 seconds||35 reps||8' 06"||7.48 seconds||4.66 seconds|
Coleman's numbers show that he is not a particularly athletic player. However, Coleman did put a good three-cone drill time, which points to quickness and agility.
|1 snap||53 snaps||50 snaps||18 snaps||45 snaps||1 snap|
The first thing that you notice when watching Coleman play is that he has incredible snap anticipation and quickness. Often times, he is the first person off the line, which is fantastic considering he played with Sutton and Bradford, who are very quick players themselves.
This ability to anticipate the snap is crucial for any defensive lineman with short arms. Since such linemen don't have the length necessary to keep the lineman at bay, they instead have to use their quickness and try to get past the lineman as soon as possible. Coleman's quickness often allows him to engage with offensive lineman on the offense's side of the line of scrimmage, which gives the defender a great advantage.
Here is a great example of Coleman's quickness:
On this play, Coleman is lined up at the 1-technique defensive tackle position. He explodes as the ball is snapped and he gets on the other side of the line of scrimmage before any offensive linemen can react.
Coleman utilizes his quickness best when playing on the interior of the defensive line, and he can get penetration on many plays with his quickness alone.
However, this does not mean that Coleman has failed to develop any pass-rush moves. Coleman's best pass-rush tactic is a spin move that he utilizes by attacking the offensive lineman's outside shoulder. When the lineman reacts to the outside push, Coleman then makes a hard spin back to the inside.
Here is a great example of this pass-rush technique:
Before the snap, Coleman is lined up at the right defensive end position. At the snap, he comes off the line straight at the left tackle. When Coleman gets about a step away, he takes an outside step to his right and makes a hard spin to his left. The left tackle reacts to the hard outside step and is left in no position to block the spin that comes off of it. Coleman gets pressure on the quarterback and causes him to throw the ball away.
Coleman also has a good stutter-step to swim move. Instead of attacking the outside shoulder like he does for his spin move, Coleman attacks the inside shoulder of the offensive lineman on this technique. Coleman will take a hard inside step to make the lineman react to the inside before utilizing a swim or club and arm over technique (depending on the situation) to get pass the lineman.
On this snap Coleman is lined up at the 3-technique defensive tackle position. At the snap, Coleman comes off with a stutter step to set up the guard. When Coleman makes his inside step, the guard reacts ever so slightly. This allows Coleman to use his left hand to club the guard and swim over to get to the quarterback.
While, Coleman is at his best while rushing the passer, he is still adequate against the run.
On this play, Coleman is lined up at the 2-technique. Even though, Coleman fires off the ball way too high, he does a great job flowing to the ball. The best thing Coleman does is stay square to the line of scrimmage while flowing to the ball-carrier. This allows him to be in the best position to make the tackle, while not allowing the runner to gain any extra yards. If a defender has there shoulder perpendicular to the line of scrimmage than they are much more likely to miss the tackle or allow the ball-carrier to carry the defender for a few extra yards.
Coleman has a tendency to rely on his immense strength against the run while utilizing his quickness against the pass. If Coleman can marry those two aspects against both the run and pass, than he will have some success in the NFL.
Another positive trait Coleman has is that he identifies screens very well. Coleman was rarely ever fooled by screens and was often in perfect position to make the tackle.
One of the negatives to Coleman's game is that he sometimes doesn't commit to his pass-rush moves.
On this play, Coleman is lined up at the 1-technique defensive tackle position. He comes off the line trying to set up his spin move. However, when the guard comes over to help, Coleman attempts his spin move, Coleman gets caught with his back to the line of scrimmage; he's in extremely poor position.
Another negative tendency Coleman has is that he comes off the ball too high. This allows the offensive lineman to get under Coleman's pads and get better leverage and is the main reason Coleman wasn't more productive against the run. If he had better pad level, he would be able to better utilize his strength to control his gap and shed the lineman to make the tackle.
Fit on Cowboys Defense
Even though Coleman played mostly at the 1-technique in college, he is better suited for the 3-technique position with the Cowboys. Coleman is not big enough to be able to hold up against the double-teams that the 1-technique faces on most plays.
Coleman's size, quickness and strength point to him being a perfect fit for the 3-technique position in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme. If Coleman can commit to his pass-rush moves better and play with better pad level he could make an immediate impact as a rotational defensive lineman for the Cowboys this year.
However, Coleman's real impact should come in years two and three when he is used to the speed and strength of NFL offensive linemen.
Coleman has the tools to become a very productive player in the NFL. If Coleman proves to have a great work ethic, then he may be added to the list of great players the Cowboys have found in undrafted free agency.