With the 231st pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dolphins chose offensive tackle Larnel Coleman. It was a selection that marked several firsts in team history.
The seventh-round selection of the 6-foot-6, former prep basketball star out of the University of Massachusetts came 150 picks after Miami's most recent selection, the longest gap the Dolphins have ever had between picks in a single draft. Coleman, who is also the organization's first draft pick from UMass, didn't mind the wait one bit.
"Just hearing my name called by this team, it means so much to me," Coleman said. "I just can't wait to work once I get down there and whatnot. It's just really a blessing. I'm really happy that this team selected me."
CBS Sports' Emory Hunt joined the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield last week. During his assessment of Miami's newest offensive tackle, Hunt raved about Coleman's athletic ability.
"Athletically, he's ready right now," Hunt said. "Pair that with his length and the Dolphins have an interesting prosect on their hands, a guy who could develop into a seventh-round steal."
Length and athleticism – two traits that constantly surface when discussing Coleman. Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier detailed what he saw on Coleman's tape as well as the projection of taking athletically-gifted players late in the draft with an eye towards development.
"As we talk about it, (athleticism is) a big part of it," Grier said. "These guys we feel have very good upside and they're good athletes, but they're also smart kids. They're very competitive kids; so yeah, as you look at all those traits that you like there, when you're looking at players late in the draft, and if they meet – we're talking about in terms of toughness, competitive, smart, team-oriented and then the athletic ability."
That athletic ability was partially translated from the hardwood. Coleman described the similarities between blocking pass rushers and defending dribble-drives in the gym.
"I think defensive basketball is the same thing as playing offensive line or at least playing tackle," Coleman said. "I feel like a lot of that athleticism is definitely going to translate to the field, and it has been I think, as you can see on my film."
Those traits were showcased at Coleman's Pro Day.
|Testing Metric||Coleman’s Record|
|Bench Press||23 Reps of 225 lbs.|
Appearing in 40 games as a collegian, Coleman made 29 starts in total – 17 at left tackle and 12 at the right tackle. A team captain and preseason Outland Trophy watch list selection in 2020 (nation's best college offensive lineman), Coleman made quite an impression on the Minutemen coaching staff.
Larnel has been a professional long before he’s ever had a chance to be a professional. The physical leadership, absolutely, because of how he works, how he approaches his business, how he studies, how he invests in the game and how he invests in himself. Walt Bell, UMass Head Coach
The 2020 season was the best of Coleman's career from a statistical standpoint. Pro Football Focus charged him with just one sack and three total quarterback pressures allowed on 126 pass-blocking reps – a pressure every 31.5 drop backs.
Coleman saw tangible growth in his production each year in college. His sophomore campaign – first season as a full-time starter – he allowed 36 pressures. That number dropped down to 22 his junior season and just four last year in abbreviated senior campaign (prorated to 12 over a full season).
As Miami continues to add pieces and depth to the offensive line, Coleman is a high-upside pick with a chance to develop. His selection also enters the running for the best draft pick announcement made of the weekend, as called by the Flores men (Brian, Miles and Maxwell).