May 26, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) on the field during OTA at Falcons Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
4. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
It’s tough to put a rookie on this list, I know, but I’m projecting Tevin Coleman to have a strong rookie campaign in Atlanta.
Nov 8, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman (6) in the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Memorial Stadium. Penn State Nittany Lions beat the Indiana Hoosiers by the score of 13-7. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
For me, Coleman will become the starting running back ahead of Devonta Freeman, but the two together will form a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield.
Coleman spent the past three years in Indiana, and carried the football 452 times for 3,219 yards and 28 touchdowns. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry. For some comparison, Freeman averaged 5.6 yards per carry in college, for what it’s worth.
What can the Falcons expect from Coleman?
He’s a violent, powerful runner and is tough to bring down. He hits top speed quickly, which can cause defensive backs to take bad angles once he hits the open field.
This ability always leaves the potential for a big touchdown run, but we can expect tougher defenses in the NFL.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com sums up his style perfectly:
"“His violent running style is a joy to watch, but might have to be tempered to extend his career. He is a “race car in the red” on just about every snap and refuses to give in, which leads to many big runs.”"
It’s that aggressive style that will make him a dangerous weapon in the Falcons’ backfield. Giving the team a new dimension is important after being a pass-first offense in recent years.
The big question with Coleman is the same for any rookie — can he transition to the NFL? If so, he could become a permanent fixture on this list. If not, then the Falcons will need to turn to Freeman.
Next: No. 3