Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

'He's super athletic': Brandon Coleman's college coach believes he can thrive at LT

Brandon Coleman

The Washington Commanders entered the offseason with a clear need at left tackle, and there were several paths they could have taken to address it.

They could have signed one in free agency; their only move in that regard was to keep Cornelius Lucas -- a spot starter who has the chance to compete. They could have traded for one; they didn't. They could have taken one of the top prospects in the draft, whether by moving back into the first round of taking someone at No. 36 overall; general manager Adam Peters admitted trade discussions had little momentum, and the Commanders took Jer'Zhan Newton with their first pick of the second round.

Instead, the Commanders drafted TCU's Brandon Coleman -- listed as a guard -- in the third round, and they believe he has a shot on the outside.

"We see him as a tackle and we think he could be a really good tackle," Peters said. "He's really experienced. He's got heavy hands. He's a really good athlete. So, we were really fortunate to get him where we got him."

But can he, though? That will be the main question surrounding Coleman, both in his rookie year and in seasons to come. According to his TCU offensive line coach, Coleman has the chance not just to play tackle, but thrive at the position in the NFL.

"He's super athletic," said A.J. Ricker, who coached Coleman during his junior and senior seasons. "Still green, but just the way he can get off the ball and get to the second level and sustain blocks is...what really makes him special."

Coleman's status as either a guard or tackle has been a topic of debate since the draft process began in earnest in January. His physical metric point to him being the former in the NFL. He's tall (6-foot-4 ½) but not as towering as fellow prospects Amarius Mims (6-foot-8) or Patrick Paul (6-foot-7 ½). He's also at a disadvantage with 34 5/8-inch arms, as both Mims and Paul have arm lengths of at least 36 inches.

Coleman's experience, however, suggests that he's best suited at tackle. He had 26 starts at the position with TCU, compared to 11 at guard. The one season he played exclusively at left tackle -- 2022 -- was the best of his college career, earning him an 80.6 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus.

Coleman also has the quickness to keep up with faster, more agile defensive ends in pass protection, which helps him out on the edge. Ricker tried to put Coleman at guard in 2023 because he felt the position fit Coleman better from a size perspective, but because the other tackle didn't progress the way Ricker thought he would, he bumped Coleman back out to tackles because "I at least wanted to trust the protection on the edges."

Asked how Coleman adjusted to edge-rushers at tackle, Ricker said, "Obviously, his quickness, athleticism, but he's also strong enough to sit down with those guys on bull rushes and get movement. It's all about two-step contact, and he's got really good feet."

Coleman's footwork was on display during the Commanders' offseason workout program. He excelled at mirroring his defenders, both in position and team drills. During one period, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson made his players kick slide between two "defenders," who were holding bags. Of the players who participated in the drill, Coleman had some of the most fluid movement.

Ricker always starts with a player's feet when he grades linemen, and Coleman consistently stood out.

"If your feet are not right, very rarely are your hands gonna be efficient," Ricker said. "It's blocking with your feet first, and then the rest will take care of itself. He [Coleman] was blessed genetically to have really good feet and be athletic, but he also works at it, too.

"It's one thing to just say, 'Okay, I'm fast or I'm big,' but to put in the extra time and to know what you're deficient in and want to fix that on a daily basis, to me, is just really what's driven his whole mindset."

There was plenty of movement on the offensive line during the Commanders' OTA practices to figure out which players fit best at certain positions, but Coleman spent most of his time at left tackle. Even if Coleman does end up as the starter, he could still see some time at guard at least in practice. The Commanders had bad luck with injuries on the offensive line in previous seasons, and now they have a young player who can fill both spots.

"It's huge," Ricker said of Coleman's versatility. "There's a guy that honestly could play all three [positions]. Center, guard and tackle. And heck, that's what you're looking for now. You'd like for him to...settle on one position, but he's one guy that I tell people all the time, 'It's kind of amazing how much you can move him around.' And he still hasn't played that much football. His best football is still ahead of him."

In fact, Ricker believes Coleman's "not close to the ceiling yet."

"I think the more confidence he gets going against guys in the NFL, the better he'll be," Ricker said. "I think as he goes along in camp...he's just gonna get better."

Related Content