Earlier this week I compared running backs David Cobb and Jay Ajayi. Today I'm back with another set of 210 plus pound backs, in Tevin Coleman and Mike Davis. Coleman is still recovering from a foot injury and isn't expected to run at the combine, but is a projected 2nd round pick. Davis, who has battled injuries in previous years, is projected to go in the 3rd or 4th round. The reason I compared these 2 is because they are almost polar opposites in skill sets, and Iet's get into why.
Every prospect has a "trump card" as Matt Harmon would say. It's a trait that will be the reason a player is successful at the next level. In Tevin Coleman's case, it's his burst and top end speed. Had he ran at the combine this weekend, he would've challenged for the fastest 40 time. He has the ability to get through a hole and break angles from oncoming defenders.
Coleman's speed helps him run through tackles and also fall forward at a consistent basis. He's the kind of back that will rush for 2 yards 9 times in a row and on the 10th carry break it for 60+. Not consistent in that regard, but a homerun threat that should continue to have his fair share of long runs at the next level.
In Mike Davis' case, he's just consistent. He's not flashy, he broke the least amount of tackles out of the 8 running backs I've watched, but he plays within himself, and he makes good decisions. You won't see him bounce runs when it's not there. He plays within the offense, does his job, and will pick up an extra yard or 2 with power. He also doesn't have to come off the field on passing downs. Davis probably played closer to 225-230 this year, but he has plenty of burst himself to out run 2nd level defenders.
In 2013 he was about 10 pounds lighter and you saw this burst on a consistent basis.
Creating for yourself
On the surface it seems like Coleman did a better job of creating yards for himself. That's is true, to an extent. Because of his gamebreaking speed, when he makes that 1st guy miss, or if he's able to keep his balance, he's gone. Coleman is best suited outside the tackles where he can pick up speed. Davis' numbers might highlight that he lacks game breaking speed to break the long run. Where he lacks in speed he can make up with decision making behind the line of scrimmage, like allowing his blocks to set up, and then use a burst to maximize his yardage. If Coleman is a 1-speed home run hitter, Davis is a back that understands how to run with a different tempo. Both use that to their advantage.
What will hold them back
Like most running backs it seems, both players have fought injuries. But injury aside, they both have flaws that could keep them from suceeding at the next level. In Coleman's case, he's very stiff. You'll see comparisons to Demarco Murray, but a Darren McFadden is more appropriate in the sense that he can't change directions with coming nearly to a complete stop. This led to multiple negative runs when that shouldn't have been the case. Coleman also doesn't generate power like you would think a back his size should. He runs high, and is already high cut, and that does him no favors when it comes to breaking tackles before he can build speed.
There were runs where I felt like Davis showed indeciveness. Enough to where it could be a flaw. He doesn't have that good of burst where he can get away with this. The Georgia game is when this really stood out. He couldn't decide whether he wanted to get upfield or not, and paid for it with minimal or negative gains.
Who has better value?
|Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10||8.5 – 9.0|
|Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round||8.0 – 8.4|
|Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round||7.8 – 7.9|
|Reliable Starter, 2nd Round||7.5 – 7.7|
|Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round||7.0 – 7.4|
|Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round||6.5 – 6.9|
|Productive Backup, 5th Round||6.0 – 6.4|
|Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round||5.5 – 5.9|
|Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round||5.0 – 5.4|
|Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round||4.5 – 4.9|
|Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations||4.0 – 4.4|
Coleman grades out to a 7.02, or a fringe 3rd round talent. He doesn't offer much versatility other than a homerun threat. He's a big back that doesn't run with power, and his change of direction skils are questionable. In the right scheme, a gap scheme, he would be at his best. I just wouldn't count on him converting many short yardage situations given his current running style. But the speed is tempting, and if you get him to the edge, he'll break at least 1 long run per game. The question is, is that worth his current projection?
Davis grades out to a mid 3rd rounder. He's good at a lot of things, but not great at any. He does run with good power, and will convert those short yardage situations will breaking a tackle on the way. He has a nice, quick, jump cut, but will also stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage due to indecisiveness. He's a guy that you want going forward to use his power. Once he does get out in space, Davis isn't going to "wow" you like previous backs that I've gone over. What he will do is move the chains and keep your offense on schedule.
Which do you prefer, the flashy home run hitter that will likely lead the league in strikeouts, or the guy that's going to get you a base hit?