Falcons officials considered running back Tevin Coleman to second-round worthy, but felt their needs on defense to be greater so when the leading single-season rusher in Indiana history was still available later they were all too happy to draft him in the in the third round on Friday.
Coleman has no plans to wait for anything.
After rushing for a school-record 2,036 yards as a junior last fall, he intends to quickly fill a void created when the Falcons earlier in the offseason released Stephen Jackson and lost Jaquizz Rodgers to the Bears in free agency.
“I’m going to come in there and get a starting spot; that’s what I’m going to do,” Coleman said. “Whoever is the starting back, they’re going to have to work.”
The Falcons chose Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley and LSU cornerback Jalen Collins with their first- and second-round picks. To have the 5-foot-11 3/8, 206-pound Coleman still around in the third, when Atlanta had the 73rd overall pick, qualified as a pleasant surprise.
“There’s no question he was on our radar in the second round. Defense was on our radar moreso,” said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.” We were very fortunate to pull him off the board in the third.”
Coleman, nicknamed “Rock,” was productive in three seasons for the Hoosiers and set a school single-season rushing record as a junior last season, when he went for 2,036 yards on 270 carries (7.54-yard average) even though a right turf toe injury that was surgically repaired after the season bothered him much of the time.
He also caught 25 passes for 141 yards, logging all 15 of his touchdowns on the ground, and led the nation with nine scoring runs of 30 or more yards.
“When you talk about him, it’s the toughness and the ability to take the ball all the way,” said first-year head coach Dan Quinn. “It’s the long-play ability, where he can turn an 8-yard play into a 25-yard run.
“We’ve got some terrific backs here with Devonta [Freeman] and Antone [Smith] and they’re both unique so to add another player with a special skill set to him, you can imagine how fired up we are about him.”
Coleman went for 228 yards at eventual national champion Ohio State, and 307 at Rutgers. He averaged 142.6 rushing yards per game over the final 21 games of his college career, and noted for his strength.
Coleman said his bum toe is ready to go.
“I’m an all-down back. I can do everything on the field,” he said. “My foot is good; it’s 100 percent. There are no problems with that. I’m going for it.”
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