According to The Viking Age, which has access to ESPN’s Insider (Their pay-wall system, something we should probably get here at purplePTSD.com. Access to Insider, not a pay-wall, unless…) and thanks to that access they covered an article essentially breaking down the steals of the recent NFL Draft (Something you’d never find for free online), if I understand it right (Chances are I don’t, See the comments on… Everything). One of their selected steals was brand spanking new Viking Stacy Coley, a receiver that I admittedly don’t know very much about. He was picked in the seventh round, I know that, but outside of that (Full disclosure) I really have spent more time looking at Rodney Adams and Michael Floyd as of late. So, who is this Coley and why is he considered a Steal of the Draft by the four-letter network? This pique’s my interest not solely because I love wide receivers or the Vikings but because if ESPN is actually paying attention to the Vikings, it must really mean something.
Coley was born in 1994 (Ugh, I feel/am old) to a mother who grew up in a house not much larger than the hospital room she birthed him in… Okay, I’m kidding. I’m not going THAT far back. But, I will go back to college as he was a member of the Miami Hurricanes. While that is technically a Southern School it’s not the typical small to mid-sized Southern (or SEC, really) school that the Vikings have selected receivers from the past decade (With terrible results) plus, so that’s a … Plus! He’s also got decent size to him, at either 6′ or 6’1″ depending on who you’re asking and just under 200 lbs.
Before we get into what ESPN had to say about Coley, let’s look at what draft “experts” thought of him. According to NFL.com’s draft profile of him, anyway…
There was fear that Coley would be caught up in a NCAA investigation into improper car rental benefits before the 2016 season, but the star receiver was cleared to work with quarterback Brad Kaaya this fall. In fact, Coley caught the pass that made Kaaya the school’s all-time leader in passing yardage. The past two seasons, Coley was named third-team All-ACC because of his playmaking abilities. He led the Canes in receptions with 63 this year, covering 754 yards and scoring nine times. Coley was a part-time starter in each of his first three seasons as well (33-591, 7 TD in 2013; 23-184 in 2014; 47-689, 4 TD while fighting a hamstring injury in 2015).
Improper rental car benefits? Christ, I thought the NFL was strict. There’s another eventual article here, in regards to the exploitation of these athlete’s by the NCAA, but I wasn’t aware that there was any sort of investigation surrounding Coley or that you could even get “Improper car rental benefits”. You can’t rent a car until you’re 25, so I’m not sure what the issue is. Nine touchdowns? That’s not too shabby, either, that should be good enough to upgrade his rental to an SUV! That potential investigation showed, at least partially, why Coley was a seventh round pick. Before getting into the nuts and bolts of his weaknesses, let’s check out his strengths. Again according to NFL.com.
Smooth and rhythmic as a runner. Able to eat into corner cushion right away and put slower corners into panic mode. Has desired forward lean into routes and operates with consistent tempo. Strong vertical push frees him for wide-open looks underneath against off-coverage. Creates separation on crossers and posts with his speed alone. Operates with plus body control. Makes late adjustments to throws to snare challenging catches. Possesses another gear to track down the deep shots. Overcame early drop issues over first two seasons in Miami. Dangerous post-catch. Eludes tacklers in cramped quarters and can burst to daylight.
Smooth and rhythmic as a runner? Sounds familiar (Stefon Diggs is noted as one of the better route runners, ever, at least if you ask coach Mike Zimmer his thoughts on it). Eating into corner cushions means that Coley is very, very quick off of the line, something that the Vikings have lacked the past few years. While the NFL has less slow, inexperienced corners (and thus less opportunities for someone to panic) than college, Coley’s ability to eat into that cushion gives him an automatic one-up in the game’s receivers and defensive back’s play. Sounds like Coley could be another deep threat on an offense that really needed one in 2016 (Along side Michael Floyd) despite his marginal speed (He ran a 4.45 40 yard dash). His ability to fake going deep then go back underneath coverage should come in handy as well.
So, what’s his weaknesses? Sounds like he’s quick and fast (There’s a difference), runs good routes, has great body control and the ability to make great catches and has some juking ability. Sure, he did have a case of the dropsies when he first got to school, but the fact that he’s overcome them should actually be one of the larger strengths, if you ask me. It can’t all just be rental car issues that made him drop all the way to the seventh round?
Scouts question his passion for the game. Basic release fundamentals off line of scrimmage rarely cross up press corners. Route work needs an overhaul. His breaks are rounded and predictable. Good pattern readers will run his routes for him. Tries to create openings with uninspired head fakes and stiff upper body. Patterns lack leverage points to create space. Has some issues tracking the deep ball. Taps brakes prematurely when he can’t find ball early. Could struggle against big, physical bump-and-run cornerbacks. Successful intermediate work was rare. Shoulder issues sidetracked him in 2014 and he was slowed by hamstring problems in 2015.
If there’s one thing that has plagued newly drafted Vikings wide receivers (Outside of the aforementioned Diggs) the past few seasons it would be route running. While the above ‘Strengths’ noted Coley’s desire to “press” into his routes (Whatever that means) as well as a ton of the other positives that essentially heavily imply that Coley has the ability to run good routes (Cutting back to get open underneath, Late adjustments, Creating separation on “Crossers”). Apparently he’s the anti-Diggs in regards to how he runs those routes, though. Diggs is considered so great because he actually not only doesn’t lose speed going into his breaks but he gains speed during and while coming out of his routes. Meaning that he comes out of a route faster than he entered it, something most DB’s aren’t accustomed to. Also, apparently, despite the fact that Coley can eat into corner cushions with ease (Off of the line of scrimmage), he doesn’t cross them over when they play press, because of some “uninspired” head fakes. That brings us to the most troubling weakness Coley apparently has.
There’s also a question of his “Passion” for the game something that is very, very important when it comes to the NFL. Sure, there’s a huge incentive to play well for these guys (Money, or in Coley’s case, making the team to get that money). However, when it comes to who is good and who is great in this league, often times the love for the game is what separates the men from the boys. If it’s looked at like a job as opposed to one’s dream, the desire to go the extra step or play hard through injury isn’t there. Just look at former Viking Matt Kalil. There have been stories for years that he really didn’t want to even play left tackle, but rather wanted to play tight end. Because of that (and other things, obviously) he never fulfilled his full potential long term with the Vikings. It’s not really something one can control, when it’s someone’s dream it really becomes pretty much a subconscious thing, an innate drive that helps one play harder, run faster and catch… catchier?
So, what makes him a steal of the draft candidate? Let’s delve into what ESPN said…
“A longtime evaluator with experience as a GM said he thought there was a good chance Coley would become a starter in the NFL. Other voters weren’t as excited. As one of the dissenters pointed out, evaluations on receivers frequently vary more than for players at other positions.
‘I see him as your fourth or fifth guy, a special-teamer who is going to make your roster,” one of the evaluators said of Coley.’
Even that would be good value for a seventh-round wideout.”
Okay. Perhaps I jumped to conclusions when I labeled this as a “Steal of the Draft” candidate. I can’t actually read the article on ESPN.com because it’s behind their pay-wall. So, forgive me. I could just delete it, but I’d rather be another example of when “Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”, which could be the tagline for our website. So, apparently ESPN came to the conclusion, after talking to a former NFL general manager, that Coley, a seventh round pick, could end up being a fourth or fifth receiver on the Vikings roster.
Not to be negative here, but I don’t think that really requires an article about it. I know, I’m writing one right now, but I guess the better way to put it would be… I don’t think that’s the definition of a steal in the draft, but rather a draft pick panning out as expected. Now, I do think that Coley could end up being a steal after looking at everything about him. I just don’t agree with the conclusion(s) from ESPN (Surprise, surprise), either of them. That Coley will essentially peak at a fourth or fifth receiver on the Vikings and a special teams guy, tops, or that that qualifies as a “steal” for a seventh rounder. I would call Shamar Stephen a steal. He was a seventh rounder who ended up starting 16 games for the Vikings last season. Sure, it was due to injury, but he was the back-up and did start other games in previous seasons as well (Including all 16 in 2014 as well). So, is Coley going to end up as a fourth of fifth option for the Vikings?
Let’s check out Coley’s measurables to see where he stacks up against other receivers on the Vikings roster and the NFL in general to try to see what his physical potential is, thanks to the great people over at MockDraftable.com.
Not too shabby, let’s check out his measurable numbers.
Now let’s look at what receivers in the NFL he compares too, physically:
The main receiver that we’ll all recognize is Reggie Wayne. One could argue that Wayne was a product of Manning’s superiority, something like Sidney Rice in 2009. But that’d be selling him short. Waynes looked bigger that 6′ tall, but he wasn’t. He had an amazing career, one that will most likely end in the Hall of Fame. He had EIGHT seasons where he had over 1,000 yards and ended his career with > 14,000 yards and 82 touchdowns. Wayne was often a deep threat thanks to his ability to run good routes, something that Coley definitely can and could do. Considering Wayne ended his 14 year career as the seventh on the list of all time receiving yards shows that Coley really could do something special, depending on whether or not he develops chemistry with Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford.
The other attention grabber would be journey man Lee Evans, who definitely did have a good career as well. He ended with multiple thousand yard seasons coming years apart from one another (Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing). I can totally see how Coley could have a similar career to Evans, as there’s definitely an opportunity on this Vikings team. This Vikings team that has an abundance of receivers that run something around the 4.45 40-yard dash, like Coley does. Michael Floyd (4.47), Stefon Diggs (4.43) and Adam Thielen (4.45) all obviously have similar (or exact) speed. Speaking of Thielen, he’s become an inspiration of sorts for the Vikings receivers that were signed as undrafted free agents. That inspiration extends to Coley, or at least the reality that is the fact that Coley has every chance to make an impact on this Vikings team this pre-season as any other receiver on the team.
From what I’ve seen, he’s got a great chance to do just that. If not, there’s always the rental car industry!