It's only one week of training camp, which in the NFL really doesn't mean a whole lot, but every success story has to have a beginning, and just maybe one Dallas Cowboys player is starting his story. I'm not breaking out the anointing oil yet, as ol' Bill Parcells would say, I am saying that defensive lineman Davon Coleman is starting to make a mark at Cowboys practice. Maybe we should have seen this coming.
Way back around the draft, Coleman's named was overshadowed by other Arizona State defensive lineman, by guys like Will Sutton. Was Coleman's success due to the guys around him? That seems to be question that was being asked because based on tape and production, Coleman should have been drafted. Here is what scout Dane Brugler had to say prior to the draft.
Five players who should be on Dallas' draft radar: DT Davon Coleman, Arizona State: In the later rounds, an underrated player the Cowboys might target is Coleman, who despite playing next to Will Sutton the past two seasons, hasn't received much attention during the process. The former Sun Devil played mostly defensive end as a junior before adding 25 pounds and moving inside to defensive tackle as a senior, lining up all over the defensive line in 2013 and finishing among the team leaders with 15.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Coleman has excellent point of attack strength to engage and hold the point, showing the awareness to quickly locate and pursue with terrific chase skills for the position. Coleman has some tightness to his frame, but as long as the intensity level stays high, he can be productive on the football field and is best-suited as a 1-technique, who can also contribute at the 3- and 5-technique spots if needed.
Coleman was an electrifying pass rusher and run blocker for the Sun Devils. He finished his career with 31 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. However, Coleman's slightly undersized for an NFL defensive tackle, and lacks the speed to be an effective defensive end in the league.
Strengths: Coleman's biggest strength is his strength. At Arizona State's pro day on Mar. 7, Coleman bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times. That would have been tied for second at the Combine. He also has pretty decent speed as he ran a 5.08 40-yard dash during the pro day, but this time is of course unofficial. Coleman is a versatile player that has experience at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions. Weaknesses: Coleman only had one really solid year as a starter in college. Despite his strength, there are questions about his explosiveness and ability to disengage from blocks, according to Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com. He also missed Arizona State's bowl game against Texas Tech (his last collegiate game) for a violation of team policy.
So Coleman was a productive, disruptive pass-rusher with terrific strength and showed some quickness and burst while playing all along the Sun Devils defensive line. Sounds like a really nice fit in a Rod Marinelli scheme.
So far in training camp, he has been one of the big surprises, playing at the 3-technique and a little at the 1-tech. Bryan Broaddus:
As good as Henry Melton and Tyrone Crawford looked Saturday on the defensive line, rookie Davon Coleman was right there with them. Coleman had been lining up all over the line but in this practice he saw the majority of his action playing as the three technique next to Terrell McClain. McClain spent most of his time as the one-technique after taking majority of his snaps during the spring at the three in place of Melton. Coleman physically looks much wider and stouter than he does tall when you stand next to him. There were several times during the practice where he would beat a block on the front side and end up in the backfield near the ball or use a spin move on a pass rush to throw the blocker off balance, working his way to the quarterback. It was impressive that every time I looked up, he was making some type of disruptive play -- which was no different from what we had seen on his college tape at Arizona State. For a young player, he plays with surprisingly good hand use and awareness in how to try and free himself from blockers. He really fits the scheme well in how he gets up the field and disrupts things. He needs to keep building on this type of practice.
1. Davon Coleman: The undrafted rookie defensive tackle out of Arizona State has been very active in camp so far. He’s often been disruptive by getting into the backfield and would have already had two sacks if players were allowed to take down the quarterbacks. On Thursday, he tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that was almost intercepted.
Coleman continued to turn heads with his pass rushing ability – in both individual drills and team work. Defenders aren’t allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice, but Coleman would have had quite the sack if they were. In team drills, he blew past Mackenzy Bernadeau and was right in Tony Romo’s face within seconds.
Like I said, it's early, it's only one week of training camp. Just maybe, down the road, we'll be saying...did we really get Coleman as an UDFA?