In recent years, the Minnesota Vikings have a history on doubling up on players from the same school – getting double duty accomplished when evaluating game tape.
Last year, they took two players from Clemson. In 2014-15, they drafted players from Louisville and UCLA both years. In 2013, they drafted two players from UCLA. In 2012, they raised the bar extremely high, taking two players from USC, Notre Dame and Arkansas in the same draft.
As with most seventh-rounders, it’s often special teams ability that is the most likely the way for them to make a roster and Coley has good experience in both kickoff and punt returns.
However, he isn’t looking to be a return specialist. His first love is receiving and he has improved his game in his four years with the Hurricanes, catching 166 passes for 2,218 yards and 20 touchdowns and saving his most prolific season (63-754-9) for last.
“I feel like my talents have always been at receiver, but I’m a versatile receiver,” Coley said. “I can play punt return, kickoff return. My first spot is receiver, so it really didn’t matter. I’m going to put the work in regardless.”
When asked about the potential that his short-term future might focus on his return abilities, Coley said that the Vikings personnel he talked to didn’t expressly mention that as a primary role, but he’s open to the possibility if it helps him make the final roster.
“They actually didn’t talk to me about it, but I’m really comfortable returning kicks,” Coley said. “If that’s the way to get me the ball, I’m going to do whatever when the ball is in my hands. If that’s the way, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get the ball in my hands.”
Coley held the distinction of being the only Division I player to score touchdowns rushing, receiving, on punt returns and on kick returns as a true freshman in 2013. While he has talents in many areas, he is being drafted as an athlete more than as a receiver alone.
He needs a lot of polish to his game – he was penalized 17 times in his last two seasons, including eight false start penalties and knows he needs to clean this up in his discipline and technique to make the desired impact on the coaching staff.
“I feel like I’ve got room to improve on everything,” Coley said. “There’s always improvement that needs to be done. Whatever I’m improving on, that is what I’m going to do.”
As a slot receiver with explosiveness, Coley has a decent chance for a seventh-rounder to make the roster and hopes that if he does, he and his former college teammate Isidora can both put a touch of Coral Gables to Minnesota.
Coley is happy to have an offensive teammate from Miami in Minnesota with him and was expecting to start the planning process to get themselves on adjoining seats on the flight north.
“I haven’t talked to him yet, but after this phone call I’m going to hit him up,” Coley said. “It’s really exciting. It’s just an honor. We’re playing (together) again. We’re going to bring everything to the table that we have.”