Corey Coleman may have finally found a home in the NFL with the New York Giants.
It has been a rocky season for the former 2016 first-round draft pick who was traded by the Cleveland Browns back in August to the Buffalo Bills. He was released from the Bills and he signed with the New England Patriots for a brief stint before being released to make room when they traded for Josh Gordon. Coleman was resigned to the Patriots practice squad, released from there and signed shortly after to the Giants practice squad. Less than a week later, the Giants signed Coleman to their 53-man roster.
About a month and a half later, it’s starting to feel like Coleman has found a home and the Giants have found a 24-year-old wide receiver prospect they should be excited about.
“It feels good to be out there contributing and really just playing my game, with the coaches believing in me, Eli believing in me like that, and the guys in the receiving corps helping me out,” Coleman said earlier this week, via Pat Leonard of Daily News.
“I’m a fighter,” Coleman added. “I’m gonna keep on fighting. (This offseason) was humbling, but it’s good. God puts you through tests in your life, and it’s really how you respond. I love this game, so I’m gonna keep on working, staying humble and everything else will work out.”
Signing and sticking with Coleman was one of the most underrated and impressive moves by first-year general manager Dave Gettleman. After the Giants bye week, Coleman was promoted to the kick returner role where he immediately impressed with several big returns, including one that was called back by penalty. His role began to grow as a wide receiver culminating in a semi-breakout Week 14 performance during the Giants’ 40-16 win over the Washington Redskins.
Coleman drew a 25-yard pass interference penalty after beating his defender in man coverage for what would have been a long gain. Later, quarterback Eli Manning came right back to Coleman on a go route down the left sideline — same as the pass interference play. This time Manning dropped the pass right into the bucket and Coleman caught the 30-yard reception to get the Giants into the red zone.
The #Giants deserve credit for giving a chance to and sticking with Corey Coleman. From everything I’ve read/seen he wants to take advantage of this chance and he’s got OBJ in his corner. They plan to train together this offseason. Money throw here too from the NFL’s “worst QB”?? pic.twitter.com/SpzqxMlpeO
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) December 14, 2018
Coleman finished with two receptions for 43 yards against the Redskins but more importantly, he played a season-high 42 offensive snaps. Head coach Pat Shurmur made good on his promise from a month back.
“He’ll get in and he’s a very talented young man,” Shurmur said back in November. “I’ve gained a fast appreciation for him. Very energetic, really into it, trying to learn everything, but again, much like RJ McIntosh when he came back he was a little behind. We’re just trying to get him going. The good thing about a receiver or really any skill on offense, you can use them as sort of a role player until he can handle the full load and that’s what we’ll do.”
The former top-15 pick has earned praise from Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham for his work ethic and eagerness to learn and get better.
“I think that speaks about his character more than anything,” Beckham said, via Leonard of Daily News. “This is a crazy business that we’re in, and to be able to handle some of these things is not easy. It’s not easy to go through what we go through. But (Coleman) is still working on everything, and he’s saying how much he wants to train this offseason. Just his mindset is he wants to get better. This coming offseason he wants to do more and more.”
Coleman has 4.37 40-yard dash speed and he adds a brand new element to the Giants offense. If the Giants can get him up to speed and playing a majority of offensive snaps, the next step is to continue using him as a vertical threat. During the Giants’ most recent win in Week 14, Coleman made a major impact on the game on two vertical go routes. If Coleman can find that consistency and chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning, opposing defenses will have to align completely different before and after the snap — this will open up more space underneath for players like Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Engram, and Saquon Barkley in the passing game.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com pinpointed Coleman’s ability to win in the vertical passing game during his pre-draft profile on NFL.com:
“Dangerous vertical talent with the ability to get over the top of defenders who fail to recognize his blazing quickness off the line of scrimmage,” Zierlein wrote, via NFL.com. “Coleman can get instant separation to create favorable passing windows and is one of the top playmakers in this draft. Coleman’s issues with drops near the middle of the field could be a concern if teams see him next as a slot receiver due to his lack of size. Regardless, he can line up outside and win and he offers immediate punt return help.”
Coleman will become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season concludes and the Giants could re-sign him to a one-year tender in the $2-4 million range depending on what round they assign a contract tender to him. Other teams will have the opportunity to sign him to a long-term deal the Giants can then match if they place.