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New Acquisition Analysis: Justin Coleman

The Dolphins announced today the signing of cornerback Justin Coleman. The former Lion, Seahawk and Patriot entered the league with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tennessee.

The Film

It's easy to see where the Dolphins interest in Justin Coleman comes from. He's a sticky, aggressive corner with inside-outside flexibility, and has familiarity with the system  as he played for Head Coach Brian Flores and Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer in New England.

Coleman's played more snaps in the slot than on the perimeter. He's often shown the ability to cover from that position – sometimes referred to as the toughest job on defense – without much help. He's patient at the line of scrimmage and quick to read and react to passing concepts, allowing him to drive and make plays on the ball.

Quick feet and change-of-direction skills are a hallmark of any good slot cornerback and that's where Coleman excels, evident by his Combine measurements. He can handle two-way guys when isolated on an island or use leverage to funnel his man into the defense's help.

The Fit

Coleman gives the Dolphins secondary six players with at least five years of experience.

Communication is a focal point of the entire defense, but especially in the secondary. Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander preaches that big plays come through breakdowns in the defensive backfield and Coleman's experience in the system and versatility gives Miami another dependable cornerback in a league full of explosive aerial attacks.

Miami matched offenses like the Buffalo Bills -- who led the league in snaps from 10-personnel (four WRs) a year ago -- by ushering extra defensive backs onto the field. The Dolphins utilized formations with six or more DBs at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL last season.

The Stats (Courtesy of Pro Football Focus)

Coleman has a nose for the football. He's scored two career touchdowns, forced four fumbles, recovered four more and logged 41 passes defensed. He hit his stride with the Seahawks in the 2017 and 2018 seasons playing primarily inside as a slot cornerback.

Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 86.1 when throwing at Coleman in the slot over his entire career.

In two seasons with Flores, Boyer and the Patriots (2015-2016), Coleman allowed only 39 receptions on 78 targets (50 percent) and 467 yards (5.99 yards per target).

The Roster Impact

Coleman joins a secondary full of established veterans; a unit that helped produce 29 takeaways in 2020, which led the league. He adds competition at slot cornerback.

The Conclusion

There's an old adage that you can never have enough good corners in the NFL, especially in this pass-heavy era. Coleman fits the bill athletically, with his ball skills and his versatility.