The Patriots have signed free agent wide receiver Corey Coleman.
A former first round pick, Coleman carries a lot of potential. Still, the Patriots will be his third team in 2018, and the 24-year-old has been limited due to injuries in his two NFL seasons.
He was a member of the 0-16 Browns in 2017, and his dropped pass in the final game of the season against the Steelers went viral for its supposed symbolism of the team’s shortcomings. Yet Coleman will now enter a very different team culture, and the Patriots are in need of receivers.
New England is without Julian Edelman until Week 5 due to suspension, and had only three receivers on the roster Tuesday prior to signing Coleman and Bennie Fowler.
Coleman will have not only a chance to stay on the Patriots’ roster, but make an impact. Here are a few things to know about the Dallas native.
The Bills cut him after less than a month in Buffalo.
The recent news around Coleman has been his downward spiral from being with the team that originally drafted him as recently as early August, to being traded to the Bills, to being released into free agency.
The precipitous decline experienced by a member of the NFL’s 2016 first round draft class was never better outlined than in an excerpt from HBO’s behind-the-scenes show, Hard Knocks. In one scene, Coleman – then still with the Browns – is seen catching a steady stream of criticism from offensive coordinator Todd Haley. This is followed by a moment which foreshadowed his departure:
After landing in Buffalo, Coleman was immediately thrown into the offense of Brian Daboll. Daboll, who’s been an assistant with the Patriots in multiple stints, runs a fairly complex offense. In an interview with Tim Graham of The Athletic, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Coleman didn’t learn fast enough.
“You know, Corey, he tried hard,” Beane explained. “He really did. Where he came in to learn a new offense, he just didn’t jell. It’s one of those things you ask yourself, ‘Have we given this enough time?’ The talent’s there. Anybody that’s been around the practice field, you see he has a skill set. But we just never were able to make it mesh on the field with him, and it’s a production business.”
He has elite speed.
As Beane admitted (“the talent’s there”), Coleman’s pure ability isn’t in question. He possesses exceptional speed. At his pro day workout before the draft in 2016, Coleman run a 4.41 second 40-yard dash in his first try. In his second, he did even better, running a 4.37.
At that year’s rookie combine, he excelled in all of the events he participated in. In fact, when Buffalo originally acquired him in early August, Beane indicated his physical ability was one of the reasons the Bills traded for him.
“He has speed and you can’t coach that,” Bean said at the time.
Coleman has flashed this ability in the NFL, but it hasn’t consistently translated.
He has draft ties to both Carson Wentz and a new Patriots teammate.
Coleman was drafted in 2016 during a fascinating period of draft trades made by the Browns. On April 20, the Eagles traded first rounders in 2016 and 2017, 2016 third and fourth round picks, as well as a 2018 second round pick to Cleveland for the right to essentially move from the eighth pick to the second.
The end result for the Eagles was Carson Wentz (taken with a pick the Browns originally owned). Cleveland subsequently traded the eighth pick acquired from the Eagles to the Titans in a second deal, moving back to 16th pick (along with additional later round choices).
Yet Coleman failed to develop with the Browns, culminating in his trade to the Bills. He was far from the first Cleveland first round pick to leave early:
Accompanying Coleman on the above list is current Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton. The Patriots also had Barkevious Mingo on the roster during the 2016 season. He played 23 special teams snaps during Super Bowl LI.
The college stats were astounding.
Coleman arrived at Baylor as a four star recruit from J.J. Pearce High School in 2012, redshirting as a freshman. He became a starter in his sophomore season, and excelled. In his first game in the 2014 season, he caught 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
After hauling in a total of 11 touchdowns that season, Coleman nearly doubled the mark in his junior year.
Averaging 18.4 yards per catch, Coleman led college football with 20 touchdown catches.