The Atlanta Falcons need a wide receiver. Julio Jones is obviously one of the elite players at the position, but the receivers playing across from him haven't been great this season. Roddy White isn't as spry as he used to be, Leonard Hankerson has had a serious issue with drops, Justin Hardy hasn't seen the field, and Nick Williams is Nick Williams.
It's become clear that when Julio Jones is hampered by injury, the passing game really suffers. Devonta Freeman has been playing out his mind recently, but he can only do so much as a receiver out of the backfield. Atlanta needs a consistent, explosive number two receiving option in the offense.
Enter Corey Coleman.
Corey Coleman has developed into arguably the best receiver in the nation playing in Art Briles' high octane offense down at Baylor. He's scoring touchdowns at an utterly ridiculous rate: through sixteen games he has 16 touchdowns on 41 catches. Coleman is converting 39% of his receptions into touchdowns as Baylor steamrolls through opponents averaging 63.8 points per game.
Coleman isn't the biggest receiver (5'10", 190), but his athletic ability and aggressive style of play seamlessly fit into what Kyle Shanahan is trying to do on offense.
Shanahan's offense is predicated on the ability to pick up chunks through the air after establishing the ground game. A lot of the Falcons big plays through the air this season have come off of play action when Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman get in a groove on early downs. While the running game has flourished this season, the passing game is a step behind.
When the Falcons do utilize play action, they employ seven and eight man protection schemes to allow deep crossing and post routes to form down the field. One concern with the passing attack right now is how long it takes routes based off play action to develop.
Here's an example from the overtime win against Washington. By the time Ryan completes his play fake and finishes his seven step drop, Roddy White needs to have gained more ground than just barely reaching the near hash. At this point in their careers, Bashaud Breeland is a much better athlete than Roddy and he was easily able to trail before exploding to the ball at the catch point for an interception.
These route combinations are designed to utilize the second receiving option; Julio Jones is clearing out the deep portion of the field facing triple coverage. If the second option doesn't get open, these are essentially dead plays that occur far too frequently.
A player like Corey Coleman would be superb as the number two across from Julio Jones. He's an elite athlete for the position and would add another explosive presence to pair with a surging ground attack. Coleman is able to get across and down the field in a hurry and has already shown great skill in routes that Kyle Shanahan loves to use on long developing route combinations.
Baylor doesn't ask their receivers to run the full route tree, but Coleman runs the routes that he's asked to well. Coleman almost exclusively lines up on the left side of the field for simplicity reasons, but he's effective running routes on that side of the field. A majority of Coleman's routes are Go routes, Curls, and Screens. He can open up the repertoire when asked to.
As the season progresses one of the main knocks against Coleman is going to be his size. At 5'10", he's certainly not the biggest receiver, but his ability to play the "big game" will serve tremendously towards his NFL prospects. His athleticism allows him to matchup with any cornerback in the country on 50/50 balls and goal line fades. Even though the following pass was incomplete, it displays Coleman's ability to explode into the air and bring down tough catches.
One area of the Falcon's team that's been lacking is the return game. Coleman can definitely add a boost in this field. When the ball is in his hands, he's a threat to go the distance. Devin Hester hasn't played this season, but he's not in the teams long term plans as a return man regardless. Coleman explodes out of his stance once he receivers the punt and takes it to the house for a touchdown.
If there were two knocks to place on Corey Coleman it would be his tendency to body catch and his inconsistent effort with blocking. The blocking aspect should be a bit more forgiving; Art Briles has stated that he wants his offense to go up temp, high speed all the time. If the ball isn't coming in a receiver's direction Briles' philsophy is to save energy and be ready to go full throttle for the next snap. Coleman's body catch tendency is a bit concerning, but he offers too much as an athlete and a receiver to crucify him for that.
Corey Coleman is an explosive element that the Falcons currently lack outside of Julio Jones. He would bring stability to the second receiving option that's been pretty shaky to start the season. He's just as good of a prospect as LaQuon Treadwell and Josh Doctson; it wouldn't be surprising to see his name in first round consideration next April.
To watch him live, tune in to ESPN at 12pm ET as Baylor takes on Iowa State in a Big-12 matchup.