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A position switch could be Lavon Coleman’s best chance at making a roster

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Utah v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Playing behind Myles Gaskin the past three seasons, former Washington Husky Lavon Coleman was never able to put his stamp on the team’s rushing game. His highest single-season total for carries came as a freshman, when he carried the ball 138 times for 4.1 yards per carry and a single touchdown. Coleman was relegated to mostly backup duties, but performed well in the Huskies’ terrific 2016 season, rushing for 852 yards on 7.5 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns.

Coleman now heads to the NFL with little production relative to his peers, but just 374 carries on his body. While he’s almost certainly a seventh round pick or a rookie free agent-level prospect, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stick on an NFL roster in September as a fullback/special teamer, much like Tre Madden in Seattle with the Seahawks.

Athletic Ability

Coleman’s athletic ability is similar to Oregon State’s Ryan Nall, in that he tested fine for the position, clearing Seattle’s thresholds for height, weight, broad jump and 40-yard dash and coming up just short in the vertical jump, but lacks flashy athleticism on the football field. Coleman’s athletic ability is perfectly functional, but without gaudy testing numbers like Chris Carson, it’s difficult for a career backup to make a case for himself in the pre-draft process.

Vision/Create

As an inside runner, Coleman can execute what is called; nothing less, nothing more. As long as he’s allowed to stay on schedule, he can be a productive runner. Unfortunately, that’s generally not how rushing attacks go in the NFL. When the play breaks down, Coleman lacks the vision to consistently create and spot cutback lanes and when he does, lacks the athletic ability to execute.

Burst

Around the line of scrimmage and at the second level, Coleman has functional speed. The initial burst is there and he gets through the hole with good speed.

However, Coleman lacks breakaway speed and has to depend on physicality or changes of direction to make defenders miss on longer runs.

Finish/Yards After Contact

Coleman has an excellent understanding of his running style and how he can win against defenders. In space, he initiates contact to beat defenders; in-tight and around the line of scrimmage, he runs physically. Coleman’s a tough runner capable of shrugging off tacklers at the shoulders and isn’t brought down by arm tackles at the line of scrimmage. He consistently moves his legs upon contact and finishes forward.

And is happy to end his run putting his shoulder through a defender:

Passing Game

Coleman caught just 31 balls during his four seasons at Washington, but looked like a natural pass catcher who didn’t fight the ball. He’ll be a servicable pass catcher out of the backfield in the pros. As a blocker, Coleman displayed intelligence in picking up blitzers and a willingness to win against much larger defensive linemen.

Here, pressure from the inside didn’t come but he recovers well to chip the edge defender who has turned the corner:

Overall, Coleman is a solid, not flashy runner who could potentially give a team a handful of carries as a part of a rotation in the NFL. I believe he’s best suited to a switch to fullback and attempt to stick on a roster as a special teamer, where his intelligence and physicality can be maximized.