Michael Coe CB Alabama State
Numbers: 6005/190, 4.53 forty, 2.61 twenty, 1.53 ten, 17 reps, 35 vertical, 10'2 long, 4.31 shuttle, 6.78 cone
2006 stats: 31 tackles, 11 assists, 4-13 tackle for loss, 1.5-7 sack, 2-0-0 interceptions, 14 pass deflections, 1-0-0 fumble recovery, 21-176-0 punt returns
The Player: A little more than a year ago, Coe looked like anything but an NFL prospect. He'd just been demoted to Arkansas' third corner and been relieved of his punt-return duties. Although he wasn't that great a returner (8-63-0 and no guarantees he'd always hang onto the ball), he couldn't understand what he'd done to lose his job at corner. I don't either, he looked like he had potential to me.
Luckily, his dad, Charles Coe, happened to be head coach at nearby Alabama State — a team made famous by the Minnesota Vikings' 2006 second-round pick, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Since it was a Division I-AA school, the younger Coe could transfer there without losing a year of eligibility.
He stepped into the Hornets' starting lineup and looked every bit the part of the shut-'em-down corner. Coe was a force. He's quick, smart and has excellent field vision. He showed a great understanding of routes and zones and lost as little as can be expected in transition. Coe is a good tackler, taking excellent angles, he has good hands for the interception, times his leaps especially well and just generally plays heads-up ball.
There are minuses to all those plusses, though. Coe doesn't have great speed and needs to rely on safety help to cover longer patterns. He doesn't have great closing speed and, instead, relies on superior positioning and anticipation to prevent mistakes. And, although he is a willing tackler and run-supporter, he is not a big-time hitter and can be blocked out of the play by bigger, stronger wide receivers.
Character and determination are issues with any draft choices, and those who have transfered during their college career generally face more questions than the other guys. There's not much to worry about with Coe, though. There are two kinds of coaches' sons — just for fun, let's call them Harbaughs and Marinoviches — and, trust me, Coe's more of a Harbaugh than a Marinovich.
Reminds me of: I hate to say it, but the NFL player Coe reminds me of is former Colt Nick Harper. They are both solid technicians and cover men who lack the ideal tools to be stars in the NFL.
How he fits: Many observers were surprised when the Colts drafted Coe. It's not because he's not a good corner (he is) or a good draft value (he was), but because he doesn't fit the mold of a Cover-2 corner. He's not a big hitter, they said. He's not a short-area guy. While it's true that Coe isn't exactly Brian Urlacher as a hitter, he may be a better Cover-2 corner than many think — especially for the Colts.
Look at the Colts' Super Bowl-winning team last year. While big-hitting former first-round pick Marlin Jackson (who hits like a cruise missile) killed time on the sideline, microscopic former fourth-rounder Jason David and slim undrafted free-agent Harper played the game of their lives.
Maybe a Cover-2 corner is just the best corner available. Coe, who saw no NFL-quality receivers at Alabama State, isn't ready for fulltime duty in the pros just yet. But he does have enviable tools and an excellent head on his shoulders. While he'll never transform into Champ Bailey, he's probably capable of being at least a part-time starter in the NFL. Even if the team never needs him to start, they will appreciate his intelligence and awareness as an extra defensive back.
Those skills and his open-field tackling abilities will also help his as a special teams performer, something the Colts always need. And, while he has experience as a punt returner and could fill in there in a pinch, it's not something I'd recommend.