The Cowboys have made their qualifications for an ideal defensive lineman pretty clear over these past few seasons.
Rod Marinelli likes guys who are big, but can move. He looks for athleticism in all of his defensive linemen, especially quick lateral movements and take-offs. He values SPARQ scores, testing, and overall athleticism in all of his defensive players, but especially in his linemen.
If Marnielli was a sculptor, his “David” would look a lot like Rodney Coe.
The former Akron Zips defensive lineman signed to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in what seemed like only seconds after the draft concluded. Anyone who had been paying attention to the Cowboys pre-draft visits would have known that Coe was a prime target for the Cowboys to grab.
He had been in their sights since day 1, and luckily, they were able to get their hands on him.
Coe has had an interesting journey to the NFL. The former running back and linebacker is now living in a defensive tackles’ body at 6’3″ 305 pounds, but he seemingly maintained a good amount of the footwork and athleticism he had to utilize as a running back.
He originally attended Iowa State, but was dismissed from the program in 2014. He has willingly admitted to displaying a lack of discipline and effort during his time there.
Coe then had to attend a junior college, and work his way back into the sights of Division 1 football schools. Akron gave him a second chance, and so far he has capitalized on it.
During his only season at Akron, he recorded 46 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and 3 pass breakups. Not bad at all for a defensive tackle.
For his size, Coe has scary speed. He is excellent in pursuit and this helps him move laterally down the line of scrimmage to make plays.
Coe also shows a good first step at times, getting off the ball quickly and shooting into gaps. His first step isn’t lightning quick, or even faster than his new teammate Maliek Collins’ is, but it is above average.
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Coe doesn’t get home here, mostly because he is held, but he does flash a little bit of his pass rushing ability. He gets a nice first step in the ground, before punching the offensive lineman and making his move inside. His pressure forces the errant throw and results in an interception.
As an undrafted free agent, there is of course going to be some “bad” that comes with his “good.” This play is the perfect example of the bad.
While he gets a good first step and creates pressure, his pad level is way too high. He immediately jumps up out of his stance, slowing himself down and possibly costing himself the sack.
At the next level, offensive lineman will make him pay for his pad-level every time.
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Here we see some relentlessness out of Coe. Many have questioned his effort and “football character” at times, whatever that might mean, but on this play you see Coe get down the line of scrimmage quickly and make the tackle.
That’s a big man who’s really moving right there.
Rodney Coe comes to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, so there is certainly reason to temper our expectations. He is inconsistent with his hand play, plays too high at times, and even seems to get gassed or display a lack effort on plays as well.
But, Coe has the unusual skill set combination of NFL size and speed that coaches love. I am sure Marinelli and the Cowboys staff believe that they can take this mammoth of a man and athletic beast, and turn him into a productive football player in this league.
I am willing to trust the organization, and from what I have seen out of Coe, he could very well find himself on the final 53 man roster come week 1.
Oh, and in case you wanted more evidence of Coe’s athleticism, here you go.