If you were to ask the Dallas Cowboys coaches, “In one word, what is the first thing that jumps off the page about Davon Coleman,” I suspect at least a few would answer, “Motor, the kid has got a motor…he never quits, he keeps coming, keeps grinding, keeps pushing…keeps fighting!”
If your follow-up question just happened to be, “What is the one trait above all traits you value over anything in your defensive lineman?” I once again would think that one word at least a few coaches would say is, “Motor!”
Everything else can be taught or trained. Motor, on the other hand, is a measure of will, determination and passion. A player either has it or they don't.
Beyond the eye-test, a quick glance at his college stats suggests Coleman's ability as a player is on the rise; he is by no means a finished product. Prior to his senior year, he played mostly DE. During the offseason leading up to 2013 (and his senior year), he put on 25 pounds and played the majority of his snaps as a DT.
In 2011, he started 13 games, had 5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 42 total tackles. In 2012, (and the last year of playing the majority of his time at DE) he had 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 66 tackles. In 2013, (were a move to DT would actually suggest a decline in production) he registered 15 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and only 8 fewer total tackles from 2012 with 58.
At his Pro Day he lifted 225 lbs 35 times and registered a decent 10 yard dash at 1.73. For reference, Aaron Donald, the first DT off the board (and my pet cat for the first round) lifted 35 times and finished with a 1.63 10-yard dash.
Fellow Sun Devil Will Sutton drafted in the 3rd round by the Chicago Bears lifted 24 times and finished his 10-yard dash in 1.82 seconds (2013 – started 14 games, 13.5 TFLs, 4 sacks, and 48 total tackles). Therefore, it is safe to say, beyond his motor; Davon Coleman brings the physical tools, as well.
Why did Coleman go undrafted?
The primary issues seem to be two-fold:
- Arm length – Think Phil Costa. Davon Coleman on the pro level will have to win battles with technique, as his overall strength and ability to disengage will be hindered by the simple fact that most offensive lineman can avoid his punch to gain separation by simply keeping him at arm's length.
- Much of his production is overlooked as a result of suggestions that he benefited from a very talented cast of players around him.
The story is markedly similar to an undersized DT for the 3-4 that the Cowboys had in Ratliff, though his snub only dropped him to the 7th round. Ratliff proved that the size of one's heart will always trump the size of the player. That question – as far as Davon Coleman is concerned – remains unanswered. But based on what I have seen and read, he is off to a very good start.