Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: RB Tevin Coleman (49ers) And A Lesson On Efficient Use of Space


Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines a run from 49ers running back Tevin Coleman that illustrates an inefficient use of space that’s a common issue for top athletes at the position with less refined processing and footwork. 

Tevin Coleman is an excellent athlete and a good NFL running back. If he had the trinity of skills that one can find in Devonta Freeman or even Justin Jackson’s game, Coleman would be an excellent athlete and excellent running back.

Instead, he’s a game-breaker with receiving skills who doesn’t consistently earn what’s blocked for him or create when the defense generates an advantage. Coleman lacks the processing and footwork to generate an efficient use of space.

Two of the three plays below illustrate that Coleman still has problems identifying when to shorten his stride and buy himself space and time to adjust to the defense. The third play illustrates Ito Smith’s ability to execute in situations where Coleman has often struggled.

Coleman isn’t a bad back. In fact, Coleman is a much-improved cutback runner compared to his college days. The feature photo for this article is a snapshot of a run where Coleman executes a cutback you wouldn’t have seen from him at Indiana.

It’s a play that remains an exceptional part of his game. Coleman still has some difficulty with consistent stride adjustments and processing information when the primary creases are comprised. It has made him a more limited back early in his career than people realize—people who think the position is mostly a product of athletic ability and instinct.

The best running backs identify problems and process and execute solutions at the speed of instinct, but they’ve spent a lot of time refining the tools they need to do the job. We’ll see if Coleman has developed his game enough to make a bigger impact in San Francisco and fulfill the expectations of those who’ve been waiting on Coleman to be “unleashed.”

Regardless, the biggest point of this piece is about scouting players and identifying individual skills that make players effective and render them less effective when absent from their game.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), get the 2019  Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge.

Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each. You can pre-order the 2019 RSP now (available for download April 1).

Categories: Matt Waldman, Players, Running Back, The NFL LensTags: , , , , , , , ,

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