RSP No-Huddle Series: Cowboys WR Danny Coale

I resume the No-Huddle series with Cowboys receiver Danny Coale, a good, but underrated bet to make an impact as a rookie. Photo by Techsports.


The RSP blog has experienced a wave of new viewers during NFL Draft season – thank you for checking it out. And thanks to those of you who post links to my work. It’s amazing how much this blog has grown in less than a year, and I have no plans on stopping.

Here are some exciting projects on the horizon:

  • The RSP Football Writers Project: Over two dozen respected football writers, analysts, and former scouts will each build a team under the structure of a salary cap. I’ll post each team here and interview the writers for further analysis. Originally scheduled to debut in May, I pushed back the schedule so we could undertake this project after the draft.
  • Grinding Tape of Ray Rice with Steelers RB Chad Spann: I’ve been super fortunate to continue talking with Spann, who is training this offseason to earn a shot at contributing to the Steelers’ roster this fall. Spann has agreed to watch a game with me. I’ll break down what I learn here.
  • The 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio Post-Draft Add-on (Downloadable May 6): Tonight I finished my post-draft rankings, tiered fantasy cheat sheet, and average pick data analysis. I have also formulated an “Over/Under/Par” rating that should help dynasty league owners have a shorthand method of gauging how I value a player relative to rookie drafts that I had access to study. I have more analysis to write and format into an Adobe document and I’ll email all RSP readers when it will be ready to download. Remember, this is part of the package you get this year for buying the 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.

No-Huddle Series: Danny Coale

Note: I don’t claim these single-play analysis to be scouting reports that give an overall take of a player. I tag the phrase “scouting report” in my posts because this is how readers look for information on players that isn’t even as in-depth as I’m providing. While one play can tell a lot about a player, it can also be misleading. The plays I select are generally indicative of what I saw from the player overall.

Coale is one of those players that at first glance gets his yardage on swing passes, screens, and crossing routes. However, there’s a lot more to Coale’s game than just those bread-and-butter plays he ran at Virginia Tech. It just takes a little patience to find them. This 27-yard reception on a 3rd and 20 play versus Michigan with 2:40 in the first quarter is an excellent example why Cowboys fans should be excited about Coale’s future in the NFL.

Coale is just outside the screen on this play where the Hokies hurry to the line and snap the ball before Michigan’s defense can get aligned. He runs a skinny post on this play against two safeties deep. Although Coale has to play the DB off the line he’s also working the safety over top.

Coale has to take an outside release against the cornerback when he runs this skinny post, which is a good demonstration of his initial acceleration – a key component to succeeding in the NFL.

Coale does a good job of ducking his inside shoulder under the initial contact from the defensive back to get on top of his coverage early in the route. This is a technique that NFL coaches at college all-star games drill daily.

Getting early separation on a route makes a huge difference in a route because the receiver takes early control of the situation and gets into a position where the defender has less body language to read when giving chase up the field. It also allows Coale to now play the safety over top one-on-one. The Hokies receiver does this with an excellent setup of his skinny post, widening the route towards the numbers to bait the safety to take a step or turn his hips towards the sideline.

Coale widens the path of his route to set up his break as the safety over top reacts and nickel back gives chase.

Just as the quarterback releases the ball, Coale breaks to the middle. The safety didn’t react much to the widening of the route, but it’s enough to give Coale room underneath to make a play on the ball.

Coale breaks to the middle and it’s going to be a race between him and the safety to the ball.

As Coale reaches the open spot of the field, he turns his back to the safety to shield the defender and then extend his arms towards the ball.

Excellent concentration to look the ball into his hands at the window in front of his face. It’s easier for a receiver to catch the ball with his arms extended towards the ball rather than over his head because he’ll have more control over the pass if he takes a hit.

Coale secures the ball to his chest while turning away from the defender to continue to give his back to the safety. He’s hit from behind and dropped at the 45.

One of the best things a receiver can do in the act of catching a pass is to give the defender his back while securing the ball.

Excellent adjustment in the air to attack the ball and shield the defender while taking the hit. A difficult, but necessary catch to make on a good throw for 27 yards.

This single play demonstrates some of Coale’s skills as a route runner. He’s not just a dink-and-dunk receiver. He displays initial acceleration, skill at working past a jam, setting up his break, and understanding how to widen his targeted soft spot. Of course, he also makes the catch with impending contact at the first available window, attacking the ball.

Although I make it sound like these plays are rarities for Coale at Virginia Tech, they aren’t difficult to find. Frank Beamer’s offense just likes to lull the casual viewer – and the defense – into thinking these plays aren’t coming. Expect Coale to provide former Virginia receiver Kevin Ogletree and ECU star Dwayne Harris stiff competition for the slot role in Dallas.

For more analysis like this at every skill position, purchase the Rookie Scouting Portfolio.  Download the 2012 RSP and Post-Draft Edition that comes with it here.

2 responses to “RSP No-Huddle Series: Cowboys WR Danny Coale”

  1. Any chance you can have the RSP add on out on the 5th? A lot of people draft on Saturday and it would be nice to have some updated rankings to ponder.

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