Things haven’t gone well for Corey Coleman since being a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Injuries have robbed him of a lot of playing time, and now he’s an afterthought in the 2020 free agent market for receivers. But given his one-time potential, could Coleman be a solid reclamation project for the WR-needy Dallas Cowboys?
Coleman, a Dallas-area native who played college ball at Baylor, was the 15th-overall pick in 2016 for the Cleveland Browns. Despite missing most of the preseason with an injury, Corey have seven receptions for 173 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games. Unfortunately, he then suffered a broken hand in practice and went out for a while.
That same hand was broken again in Week 2 of the 2017 season, knocking Coleman out for about half the year. In total he missed 13 games over his first two NFL seasons and was also dealing with an ugly QB situation in Cleveland.
Coleman was traded to Buffalo just before the 2018 preseason after being demoted to a backup role. He didn’t make final cuts and then got picked up by New England, but was cut shortly thereafter when the Patriots needed to make room for adding Josh Gordon.
The Giants were Corey’s last NFL stop after New York added him midway through that 2018 season. He didn’t get much time but was expected to move into a bigger role in 2019. But a torn ACL on the first day of training camp ended his season before it began.
You could look at Corey Coleman’s first four years in the NFL and easily think that he’s a lost cause. But even if he never develops into what many expected back in 2016, could Coleman still provide value somewhere on Dallas’ WR depth chart?
While the Cowboys still have Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as a great starting tandem, the rest of the WR group has taken a hit from 2020 free agency. Randall Cobb is now with Houston and Tavin Austin remains unsigned.
That leaves a motley crew behind the starters. Devin Smith had one big play last year and little else, and the rest are prospects like Noah Brown, Ventell Bryant, Cedrick Wilson, and Jon’Vea Johnson.
If Corey Coleman’s given a fresh start with a solid QB and new coaching staff, where could he fit in this mix? It’s not unreasonable to think he could at least be the fourth receiver, and one with considerably more upside than other options.
Obviously this would just be a hope, but at this point there’s no risk involved. Coleman has gone from one of the best receivers in his draft class to a practice squad guy. He can’t expect anything more than a minimal contract with no guarantees.
The Cowboys have a long history of rolling the dice on these kids of players. They just did it last year with Devin Smith, and Coleman has an ever greater pedigree than Smith did.
This idea isn’t meant to be an alternative to signing or drafting Randall Cobb’s replacement. Dallas still needs to make a much more substantial move to find WR3 and compete the offense.
But if Corey Coleman still has the potential that teams saw in 2016 then he could be a valuable depth player this season. Given their history with reclamation attempts, perhaps the Cowboys will give Coleman a look.