Alphabetically, B.J. Coleman is first among the 19 quarterbacks that were invited to participate in this week's NFL combine. Unfortunately for the former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and McCallie star, the draft doesn't follow the same order.
Like all of the other quarterbacks, Coleman will head to the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis later this week with a lot to prove. Though some, like Coleman, have more than others.
"Guys like him need to come out there in the combine and participate fully in everything," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call with reporters last week. "He's not Andrew Luck; he's not Robert Griffin."
Andrew Luck is the former Stanford All-American that has been projected as the No. 1 overall pick since before the start of the 2011 college football season. He's been called by many a player that comes along once in a generation.
Robert Griffin III had little hype entering his junior season at Baylor, but by the time it was over he had won the Heisman Trophy. After forgoing his senior year he's rated by everyone as the No. 2 quarterback available.
"The more tape I put on of this kid, the more fun I have watching him," Mayock said of the player known as "RGIII."
The quarterbacks arrive at the combine on Thursday. On Friday they will get measured, go through medical examinations and begin two days of psychological tests and interviews with scouts and general managers of all 32 NFL teams.
Those interviews, Mayock said, are critical. For everyone from Luck to Coleman and all of the quarterbacks in between.
"He's going to test OK, and he's going to look pretty good throwing the ball," Mayock said of Coleman. "I think the important thing for him to be able to do is look people in the eye and come across as impressively as possible as a student of the game and [having] a passion for the game."
Other than the week he spent in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the East-West Shrine Game, Coleman has been training in Hattiesburg, Miss., since the day after Christmas. As hard as he's working to "be polished" and ready for the physical aspects of the combine, Coleman knows that's only part of the evaluation that teams will assemble.
"Mayock's absolutely right," he said. "When you get a chance to get in front of those general managers and shake their hands and look them in the eye -- yes, sir; no, sir -- and talk ball with them, that's a huge portion of this thing."
Mayock has Coleman rated as "as a late, draftable quarterback." NFLDraftScout.com rates him as the No. 9 quarterback and the National Football Post has him at No. 7, as does Optimum Scouting.com.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. talked about Coleman on "SportsCenter" last week, calling him an "under the radar" quarterback that could could go in the fifth or sixth round.
Coleman said it was "pretty neat" to hear him being talked about on national television, though he didn't get to see the piece until late in the evening.
"I heard about it the whole day," he said. "I got texts and calls and saw a lot of it on the Twitter, and it was awesome."
After Luck, Griffin and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, who are the top three quarterbacks according to Kiper, Mayock and ESPN's Todd McShay, the field opens up a little with experts having varying opinions on Arizona's Nick Foles, Arizona State's Brock Esweiler and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.
A concern regarding Weeden, who spent years playing pro baseball and is older than NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is his age, Mayock said.
"He's 28 years old, and you have to decide how much a negative that is," he said.
Those appear to be, at least according to the experts, the top six guys available. After that comes the mix of players that includes Coleman, Boise State's Kellen Moore, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins.
Mayock saw Coleman at the East-West Shrine Game, and the practices leading up to it, and said he was the quarterback that everyone gravitated toward because of his size and arm strength. Coleman started for the East and went 10-of-15 for 168 yards and a touchdown.
"I think his footwork, his lower body and his upper body, need to stay connected," Mayock said last week. "I think sometimes when he gets in a hurry, he gets a little sloppy with his lower and upper body."
Coleman has been working on that and everything else in Hattiesburg. In Indianapolis he'll get the chance to show his improvement and talk face to face with the people that will be deciding his fate.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...
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