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By Craig Haley, FCS Exec. Director - Archive - Email
NFL teams not sleeping on Chattanooga QB
Chattanooga QB B.J. Coleman threw for 6,871 yards and 52 touchdowns in 29 games.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Seemingly every aspect of B.J. Coleman's game has been evaluated in the long, winding road toward the NFL Draft that it's easy to think he would be tired of the dissecting and prying nature of the process.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback has even been described as being too serious.

Shouldn't that be a positive for someone coming into a new job?

Fortunately, Coleman is as much Mel Kiper Jr. as he is Peyton Manning, so the game film junkie feeds off the evaluations of what he doesn't do well as much as what he does well. He's quite meticulous. The moment he is told what must be improved, he's ready to work on it.

Final grades are almost in. Coleman is expected to be the first, and perhaps only FCS quarterback, selected in the three-day draft that runs from next Thursday to Saturday. He generally is projected as a fourth- to sixth-round pick.

"I really try to focus in on the small things," he said.

"When you break your game down, or when you have somebody else break your game down, you can really find your flaws. Everybody can play football at this point and you know they're going to be successful in terms of what they've done in college. The thing that separates the good from the great, the college from the professional quarterback, is the small things. That comes from breaking your film down. I'm green, I'm somebody who looks forward to the coaching, to the critiquing."

FCS Draft Choices
 Number of FCS draft choices over last five years (with first selection):
2011: 21 (Villanova OT Ben Ijalana. Indianapolis Colts, second round)
2010: 19 (UMass OG Vlad Ducasse. New York Jets, second round)
2009: 15 (Western Illinois LB James Williams, Dallas Cowboys, third round)
2008: 23 (Tennessee State CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Arizona Cardinals, first round)
2007: 17 (Hampton LB Justin Durant, Jacksonville Jaguars, second round)

Coleman will benefit from the notion that after the top two picks in the draft - Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III - the quarterback position isn't considered particularly deep this year.

Fortunately for Coleman, injuries over the last six months haven't hurt his draft value. He missed four games as a senior after spraining his right throwing shoulder during an October game. But he came back feeling the shoulder was stronger after it healed and he showcased it during an excellent week at the East-West Shrine Game in January, earning the starting nod for the East and completing 10-of-15 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown.

A broken pinkie finger, suffered in training, then forced him to sit out the throwing at the NFL Combine in February. After that injury healed, he impressed scouts from 16 NFL teams at the Chattanooga pro day earlier this month.

There's a lot to like about Coleman, too. A former FBS talent who spent two years at the University of Tennessee before he transferred home to Chattanooga in 2009, Coleman has NFL size (6-foot-3 1/2, 233 pounds), arm strength and leadership skills. He passed for 6,871 yards and 52 touchdowns with the Mocs and would have become their all-time passing leader had he not been injured as a senior.

Of course, the football nerd in him - has anybody called him that? he has a high football IQ - has spent considerable time since graduating in December evaluating and improving on what has been labeled as his shortcomings.

"I feel like one of my best attributes right now is that I've got a lot to learn," he said matter-of-factly. "I think that's a good thing in my favor because I haven't really been able to really tap all the way into my full potential yet. Potential is not always my favorite thing, but I think the biggest thing is, I feel like I can do it no question, With my opportunities and getting with the right coach and the right system, I feel like I can play quarterback in the NFL."

Potential, he added, "means you haven't done anything yet. And the worst thing somebody can tell you is that you have potential and all of a sudden you sit on it and you get complacent. That's not how I was raised, that's not the mindset that I have. When I hear 'potential,' I want to make sure and put it into action. That's very important to me and that's what I've tried to do over the process of the last several months. I think upside is very important and I feel like I have a good upside and a willingness to learn and get better each and every day."

One day after Christmas, Coleman took off for Hattiesburg, Miss., where he worked under Sam Morris, an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist who has worked a little with Brett Favre. Coleman's agent, Bus Cook, also represents Favre as well quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Cam Newton.

Coleman has a smooth, compact and quick release (baseball-style, he says), but he's worked to improve on locating second receivers and become quicker in the pocket, where he has had the tendency to hold onto the ball and take sacks. He also has focused heavily on polishing his footwork.

"Footwork, I've really worked hard for the last two-and-a-half months on my footwork, in the pocket, out of the pocket, making sure I'm mobile," he said. "I'm not the fleetest of feet, but I feel like I move very well within a pocket; I'm quick from point-to-point."

Coleman might have saw or heard about one more description of himself. CBSSports.com compared him to Dan Orlovsky.

That would be NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky.

And that's all that B.J. Coleman wants to be - an NFL quarterback.

"You do what you can, and what you can control you take care of," he said. "What you can't, you leave the rest up to the draft and the decision makers.

"I'd like to get somewhere where I get an opportunity to better myself. And I think you can do that at all 32 football clubs. But you want to get in a place where you fit, the system works for you, the coach believes in you. I will be happy. I just want a shot."


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