Dallas Digs Up Coale

After spending four consecutive draft choices on defensive players, the Dallas Cowboys found another weapon for quarterback Tony Romo with the fifth-round selection of Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale.

Lists of the top receivers in college often don't include Coale's name, but the four-year starter is one of those players who knows his job and produces. He measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-0 and 201 pounds, and ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash. His times of 6.69 in the three-cone drill and 11.22 seconds in the 60-yard shuttle were among the fastest times turned in among all players at the Combine.

Coale is a smart, tough player with exceptional hands who played in 55 games for the Hokies, catching 165 passes for 2,658 yards and eight touchdowns.

Perhaps most impressive is his career average of 16.1 yards per catch, with his lowest single-season average being 11.3 yards per catch (in 2007 — his freshman season).

"I do like going over the middle," Coale said after being drafted by the Cowboys. "At Virginia Tech, I was able to play both inside and outside in our system, and I really liked both. I always challenged myself to make those tough catches over the middle. I really enjoy playing from the middle of the field, seeing it from the slot."

In his senior season, Coale had 60 receptions for a team-leading 905 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and tied for third on the team with three receiving touchdowns. He also tied for the longest catch of the season by any Virginia Tech player, with a catch and run of 63 yards.

Coale also returned eight punts for 52 yards and rushed four times for 26 yards as a senior. If that weren't enough, he was the Hokies' emergency punter, with 13 punts for a more-than-respectable average of 43.5 yards … with four punts of 50 or more yards, including a long of 61 yards.

But Coale did not get drafted for his punting skills. While faster than many realize, he doesn't always rely on his wheels to get open.

Coale has been hailed for his intelligence since arriving at Virginia Tech, where even as a freshman, coaches and teammates talked about his ability to understand defenses and find a seam to create a passing lane for Hokie quarterbacks.

Coale has the speed to get deep in a vertical passing game, but he also has the toughness and fearlessness to go across the middle of the field, and he is as good as any receiver in the country at making receptions on tipped balls or passes into heavy traffic.

If there is a weakness in Coale's game, it is that he is not considered an elite blocker, but that is a skill that can be taught. With Laurent Robinson's departure to the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent, the Cowboys are in dire need of a reliable, productive third receiver, and may have found one in Coale.

"I think there is a lot of learning to be done," Coale added. "I have a lot of confidence in myself, but I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to learn. I'm excited to learn from those older guys there from Miles and learn a little from Dez and just pick their brain and the coaches. I have confidence that I'll be able to contribute. I'm planning to come in there and work hard at it, which I will do."

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