The Eagles running game took a major step back last season. The once-unstoppable Chip Kelly rushing attack was pretty inconsistent and even nonexistent at times. The running game being neutered certainly didn't help the quarterbacks and made the offense very one-dimensional far too often.
While LeSean McCoy finished in the top five in rushing yards, his inconsistency and tendency to disappear for long stretches became very apparent. McCoy is due a lofty salary next season and his partner in the backfield, Darren Sproles, is on the wrong side of 30. There is also the fact that Chris Polk has missed multiple games due to injury in all three of his NFL seasons. The Eagles need an eventual successor to McCoy and a reliable backup in the short-term. Indiana's Tevin Coleman is tailor-made for the Kelly offense and may be the dark horse for the top back in the class.
A Tinley Park, Ill. native, Coleman played running back, wide receiver and cornerback at Oak Forest High School. He committed to Indiana in 2012. In his freshman season, Coleman played in 12 games and led the team with 566 kick return yards on 24 attempts, including a 96-yard return for a touchdown. He added 225 rushing yards on 51 carries and 49 receiving yards on 10 catches.
In 2013, Coleman handled the load at running back, collecting 958 yards on 131 carries and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. He added another 193 receiving yards with 19 catches. In his junior season, Coleman exploded for 2,036 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 270 carries. He caught 25 passes for 141 receiving yards. He was voted a unanimous consensus All-American and finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting. He is only the 18th player in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season.
Coleman is a big play waiting to happen. His breakaway speed is ridiculous and at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Coleman is a tough tackle in space. Coleman is a slippery runner and his elusiveness allows for him to pick up chunks of yards after initial contact. He is a smart runner that shows good vision and he hits holes with confidence. A willing blocker, Coleman is proficient and consistent at that phase of the game. His long-end speed is dangerous. If you don't tackle him conventionally, prepare to allow a big touchdown. He has also shown the ability to catch out of the backfield with 54 career receptions.
Much like McCoy, Coleman needs to get going on a few carries before setting the field on fire. He will get taken down for a loss or no gain a couple of times and seems to struggle to find holes in short yardage situations. He needs to do a better job of following his blocks, because that leaves extra yardage to be had.
While it may not be obvious to all fans, the Eagles do need to find a way to greatly improve their running game. It is literally the basis for the offense in Philadelphia and adding another Shady (but with better speed) could lead to the offense becoming even more dangerous. Coleman is likely to go in the second round, so the Eagles need to figure out if they value the position enough to spend a Day 2 pick on him.