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Brandon Coleman ready to compete wherever he's needed

05102024 Rookie Minicamp KC52997

There are still a list of questions surrounding the Washington Commanders' offensive line, a position group that was one of the team's biggest weak spots in 2023, but it seems like the new regime has an answer for almost every position.

Three-year starter and 2022 Pro Bowler Tyler Biadasz followed Dan Quinn from the Dallas Cowboys to the DMV; guard Nick Allegretti signed with Washington hoping to compete at left guard, a position that would probably be his if the season were to begin tomorrow; Sam Cosmi, one of the best guards in football during his first season of playing the position full-time, is holding down the same spot on the right; and Andre Wylie enters his second season with the Commanders as the likely starter at right tackle.

That leaves an obvious hole at left tackle, although the team has veteran candidates in Cornelius Lucas and Trent Scott, both of whom had starts last season. Third-round TCU tackle Brandon Coleman could also be in the mix, but while he is confident in his ability to compete on the edge, he just wants to be on the field.

"I don't really have a preference," Coleman said after he was drafted with the No. 67 overall pick. "I'm just excited to get a chance and be able to compete at the Commanders and being in the NFL. I'm just really excited to get this chance."

The Commanders didn't tell Coleman about their plans for him when they called him on Day 2 of the draft. However, general manager Adam Peters said during his press conference later that night that he and the staff view Coleman as a tackle. In fact, they believe "he could be a really good tackle."

"He's really experienced," Peter said. "He's got heavy hands. He's a really good athlete. So we were really fortunate to get him where we got him."

His playing history at TCU would certainly back that up. He played 2,120 snaps in college, more than half of which were at left tackle. The 2022 season, the only season where he was exclusively at the position, was also his best, as he recorded an 80.6 grade from Pro Football Focus and allowed just two sacks.

"We certainly think he has what it takes to be a tackle in this league," Peters said. "And he's got the feet, he's got the speed, he's got the strength, and he's got the intelligence and he's got the right mindset."

Coleman has some traits that make it easy to see why some analysts evaluated him as a guard in the NFL. He's not as tall as some of the other tackles that went ahead of him, and his wide frame helps him match up against bigger defensive tackles. He also possesses strong hands that allow him to stay engaged with defenders and dig them out of running lanes up the middle.

But Coleman also has similar arm length to tackles drafted before him and boasts impressive footwork that shows he could play tackle. While the skill players were going through seven-on-seven drills during the second week of OTAs, Coleman and the rest of the offensive linemen were practicing their pass sets with a drill where linemen had to slide from one player to the next to deliver a punch while also kick stepping backwards.

Coleman was one of the more polished players at the drill, executing his responsibilities with ease.

"I just want to show I'm the player I said I was," Coleman said. "I'm competitive, I love to play ball, and I love to compete wherever I'm at."

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders taking the field for the second week of OTAs.

So, if Coleman looks, moves and plays like a tackle, that must be his position, right? Well, maybe.

Even if Coleman does end up staying at tackle, the Commanders aren't going to hand him the job. Lucas, one of the few players from the team's own crop of free agents they decided to re-sign, stayed in the DMV with the intention of competing for a starting job. He has started in exactly half of the 62 games he has played for Washington, and he's been serviceable in limited stretches.

Handing players jobs is also simply not how the Commanders' new regime handles its business. They want their players to earn roles -- a message that Quinn drove home earlier this week.

"We're always going to push it on the competition side," Quinn said. "You keep that thought of just relentlessly going after it to say, 'Can this be better, can this be better?' and develop the guys here. That's what we're looking for, and we won't back off on that."

Quinn also added that the competition at tackle is going to take some time before they get an answer.

"And the reason being is you've seen where we haven't done a lot of team [drills] together…so we're going to be really strategic as it gets to training camp and finding markers and moments to say, 'Okay, you're getting the first reps today; next one, you get the first reps.'"

Another advantage Coleman has is that he doesn't need to play tackle to get on the field. He played the first four games of the 2023 season at left guard, allowing just two total pressures.

So, if Allegretti either can't play or doesn't outright earn the job for whatever reason, Coleman could bump over to guard with little difficulty.

"I'm comfortable at guard or tackle," Coleman said. "I've worked at both good amounts...through my college career, so wherever I'm at, I'll feel comfortable."

And competing to prove his worth is something Coleman can get behind.

"The only thing they [the coaching staff] told me is to come in and compete," Coleman said. "That's their philosophy, their motto here, and that's what I was brought up on, too ... Being able to come here and work for whatever that is, that's just very exciting to do."

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