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DeAndre Coleman, Cal defensive tackle: NFL Draft 2014 profile

Where will DeAndre go?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As you might know, not much is happening in the 2014 NFL Draft concerning California Golden Bears, so interest is at a bit of a lull. The only player who we feel pretty confident will get picked is DeAndre Coleman.

Coleman has had an interesting career at Cal that was somewhat bereft of highlights. He was incredibly talented when he was recruited back in 2009, but he was a 4-3 defensive tackle who had to adjust to a team that was transitioning to the 3-4. Coleman was buried on the bench while Cameron Jordan, Ernest Owusu, and Trevor Guyton all took their turns up front. Additionally, Derrick Hill, Aaron Tipoti and Kendrick Payne would all be rotating in at nose tackle, so Coleman didn’t really start seeing extended playing time until 2012 when spots opened up at defensive end.

Coleman has the size to be a defensive tackle. Clocking in at 6’5, 310 pounds, the big defensive lineman is an imposing force. He proved to be very difficult to take to the ground last season, always managing to stay on his feet. He held his gap and allowed linebackers the opportunity to make the tackle on the ball-carrier. He managed to be durable and stay on the field for a majority of the snaps. He also occasionally made his way free of his blocker and get into the backfield.

Unfortunately, Coleman wasn’t much of a playmaker—not many defensive tackles are, but you never really felt he was making his stamp on the game. He would always put up solid B-level performances at defensive tackle but never really get the better of his man and blew up running plays. Often it felt like Coleman would either hold his ground or force his man back a little bit.

Coleman would finally get a scheme that fit him in 2013, where he could play as a three technique defensive tackle and try to wreak havoc. Unfortunately, the scheme and the coaching was not up to par, and there would be breakdowns elsewhere. The defensive ends were particularly overwhelmed as the season wore on, as teams would run away from Coleman and attack more vulnerable gaps. They would remain vulnerable all season.

I think with the right team and the right scheme, Coleman could plug his way in on any NFL roster. He needs a bit of conditioning to gain a bit more agility at the position, but I’d say he has the size and strength to be a difference maker down the line.

Here’s a quick look at some of his tape from the Ohio State game (I mean pretty quick, I couldn't stomach to watch all of this again).

At the beginning,  Coleman is matched up against fellow Ohio State senior Andrew Norwell. The offensive guard is also a potential late round draft pick, and they seemingly battled to a standstill when the Buckeyes mauled the Bears defense. Coleman would also occasionally switch to face guard Marcus Hall, another potential late round pickup.

1:25: Coleman pushes Norwell back, forcing the RB back into the help and eventually getting an Ohio State fumble.
1:48: Coleman gets double-teamed, Buckeyes aim to open up the left side with stretch block (this feels like outside zone but not sure) and get the defenders to bite inside.

For the most part, Coleman stays upright and doesn't get taken out of the play, despite the elite ability of the Buckeye interior.

The biggest issue I see from this tape with Coleman is that he doesn't really push his man back and is more likely to either hold his position or get moved out of his spot. Norwell held his own and kept him from moving from side to side and becoming a disruptive force. Norwell is a good guard prospect and definitely a big body (315 pounds for a guard is something Cal would love to see for their run blockers). Sometimes he would be able to turn Coleman's body sideways and open up a running lane for the ball-carrier.

This freed up Ohio State's center and offensive guard to double-team Moala at the point of attack, and Moala was generally minimized in the overall scheme of things.  When he was in, Jacobi Hunter just struggled and the defensive ends were run roughshod.

It should also be noted that this coaching matchup was Urban Meyer vs. Andy Buh. Not exactly Hannibal vs. Scipio (more like Legolas vs. Mumakil). most defensive mishaps should not really be laid at Coleman's feet. You'll see scheme issues pretty much everywhere along the back line that led to many of the huge gains/touchdowns you see in this game.

(The most notable Buh-able: At 5:20 you see a stunt by Coleman to the outside, opening up a WIDE gap for the Ohio State ball-carrier to plow forward for the first down. There would be a few more stunts on that drive for whatever baffling reasons.)

However, you can see from the tape that Ohio State was happy to attack pretty much every other part of the field, particularly the outside running lanes and the flats.  The Buckeyes diagnosed the weak spots of the Cal defense as the defensive ends and safeties and did their best to exploit those mismatches over and over. Coleman became kind of secondary in the whole equation as Ohio State just ran that ball away from him...and eventually away from his teammates as well.