Kain Colter: The Next Julian Edelman?



(Pic via

(An article about a Northwestern player, but I posted it here cause I mention Edelman quite a bit)

Cats’ Alumnus Looks to Make a Mark at Senior Bowl

5-11, 195 pounds. 4.4 40. Dual threat College quarterback. You could be talking about Northwestern Senior Kain Colter, or 1000 yard NFL receiver Julian Edelman.

Despite spending the bulk of his time at quarterback in his 4 years at Northwestern, Colter has NFL scouts intrigued with his potential in the slot. He certainly has all the physical tools to compete in the NFL; his 4.45 40 time mirrors that of the aforementioned Edelman and is 0.2 seconds faster than slot legend Wes Welker.

Colter also possesses great quickness and a raw ability to make the first defender miss. Check out a few of his highlights running the ball, which could translate into YAC in the NFL, as well as contributions in the screen game.

Iowa Football Film Review - Man Defense vs. Kain Colter (via Nicholas Moffitt)
Become Legendary- Kain Colter (via Navarro Pro)
Kain Colter- All For 2012 (Race to the Heisman) (via Navarro Pro)
But what sets Colter apart from most isn’t his physical skill, which is great nonetheless. It isn’t the 43 catches he had for nearly 500 yards back in 2011. It is actually his experience at quarterback, like Edelman, that gives him an advantage at the next level.

By running a short passing game at Northwestern, Colter got used to reading the movements of cornerbacks and safeties. This gives him an advantage over most receivers entering the draft. Colter will be able to use his knowledge of defenders’ nuances to quickly adjust to a key part of many NFL offenses--especially those with heavy slot usage--option routes (See Film Breakdown).

"At times, there are four decisions that a receiver needs to make after the snap the way our offense is," Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea told The Boston Globe in June of 2012. Colter should have little trouble making these decisions, as he spent a considerable amount of time doing it when deciding when to throw the ball, and to who.

While he should be able to make an immediate contribution playing in the slot, Colter won’t have to limit himself to one position. He has potential as a punt returner, in the Wildcat or even emergency quarterback. He has never returned a punt in his career, but the success of a guy like Edelman (who rarely returned punts in college but is 7th all time in Y/R) is encouraging.

Colter himself said it best in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune. "Teams nowadays love having a guy who can run those option routes and read a defense. That's what I bring to the table."

He’ll have a chance to show it off at the Senior Bowl on January 25th.
Film Breakdown: How Kain Colter Can Make an Impact
In Week 2 of the NFL season vs the Jets, the Pats eked out a 13-10 win against the Jets on Thursday Night Football. They gained a mere 232 yards of total offense. Overall, it was a terrible day for the offense, which went 0-3 in the red zone and 4-18 (18!!) on third down. However, there was a lone bright spot--the play of wide receiver Julian Edelman who caught 13 passes. While gaining only 78 yards, he converted 5 first downs--one of them putting the Patriots in position to milk the clock out with 3 minutes left in the game. Working mostly out of the slot, Edelman used motion, screens, picks, and finally, option routes to beat a mix of man and zone from the Jets.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman - all his receptions against the Jets in 2013 Week 2 (via Nigel Wakeley)

The 13 catches in this video show the simplest ways Colter can be utilized in the NFL.

1. On the first play, Edelman motions to the slot, then comes back outside. His man isn't pressing at the line which lets Edelman use his quickness to run under a Hoomanawanui pick for 6 yards.

2. On play two, Antonio Allen takes inside position at the snap, while Edelman cuts outside for an easy first down. It's unclear whether he had the in/out option, but that is the exact scenario in which an option route would be effective in gaining separation.

3. Play 3 has the Patriots in a Gun Split Flex, with Edelman in the slot. Kyle Wilson is playing 10 yards off the ball, Brady fakes the handoff and throws a quick bubble screen, and it's Edelman vs Wilson. A quick juke nets him another 6 yards.

4. On play 4, Edelman is lined up in the slot near the Y tight end. Brady fakes the inside handoff and gives it to Edelman on the sweep. Edelman once again has one man to beat for the first down and uses his quickness to turn the corner. Kain Colter should be especially useful in this area.

5. As mentioned earlier, Colter will be a great asset for a team in the screen game, which seems to get more popular in the NFL every year. On play 5, the Patriots are in a hole on 3rd and 15 and decided to go conservative with a quick screen out of the split flex. Edelman receives some solid blocking from his tight end, finds a hole, and scampers for a 20 yard gain. Edelman's running style on this play is reminiscent of how Colter ran at Northwestern. They both run low to the ground and use a variety of cuts and spin moves to find small holes in the defense and gain yards.

6. The next play I want to show you occurs at around the 1:30 mark. The Pats face a key 3rd and 9 and decide to come out in a Gun Doubles On formation, which puts two WR's on one side of the field, leaving the rest of the field open to the the tight end and 3rd WR, who in this case is Edelman. He motions to the slot, which causes the defender to back off, showing Brady that the defense is likely in a zone. When the ball is hiked, Brady looks immediately at Edelman, who looks to be reading #30. The corner takes outside position (possibly because Edelman ran about 100 out routes that game) and Edelman breaks inside, and catches the ball wide open for the first down. This is the sort of situation Colter will be able to diagnose, allowing him to use his quickness and speed to get open.

7. Finally, the 3rd down conversion to ice the game. As expected, Edelman motions into the slot, and no defender moves with him, essentially showing Brady it will be zone coverage. #56 is zoning the middle of the field and initially has good position to defend the in route. However, Edelman is simply too quick to cover without a jam, and gets past him for the catch and game clinching first down.

Overall, Colter will need to work on the nuances of route running, as Edelman did for much of his first 4 years in the league, learning behind Wes Welker. The key for Colter is to emulate Edelman's strong work ethic, which he should have no trouble doing. According to the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein, "Colter is prepping for the Jan. 25 Senior Bowl at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where his daily activities include wide receiver drills, conditioning, watching film, and yes, media training."
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