There are few, if any, wide receivers in the NFL that are like Steve Smith. Smith is an extremely reliable target, never failing to make a big play when needed. He brings a toughness and enthusiasm that other receivers just don't possess. Despite this, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins believes the next Steve Smith is on Cleveland’s roster.
Browns WR Andrew Hawkins just said Cleveland's first-round pick, WR Corey Coleman, reminds him of Ravens' WR Steve Smith.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 4, 2016
Steve Smith himself saw the tweet, and responded with his approval of the comparison.
In his final year at Baylor, Coleman won the Biletnikoff award, given to the best wide receiver in the nation, and was drafted 19th overall, but the Steve Smith comparisons may need to be put on hold.
Let’s start with the similarities, as their aren’t many of them. Coleman and Smith both are smaller receivers, they both have an elite ability to go up and get the ball, they both have are elite playmakers capable of carrying a team, and they both are fantastic leaders. But that is where the similarities end, and the differences begin.
Coleman is known as a burner (4.39 40-yard dash), a deep threat on the outside, but his hands have proven inconsistent. Smith, who by no means is slow, is not a burner, but Smith has elite hands. Smith is an elite route runner, while Coleman has a limited route tree, and only runs basic routes.
Smith tweeted that Coleman has the "dawg in him". However, while Coleman can be very tough and physical, it is nowhere near Smith's level. Coleman beats defenders more with speed and finesse than with toughness. Smith on the other hand, despite having run a 4.41 40-yard dash at his combine in 2001, relies more on toughness than elite speed. Coleman got pre-draft comparison to Percy Harvin and John Brown, neither of which have a similar game to Steve Smith. Coleman plays much better outside the numbers, and sometimes loses focus when inside them. Smith is well known for being a bully both inside and outside of the numbers, making him near impossible to cover.
Saying that Coleman isn't like Steve Smith is not even close to a knock on Coleman's game. Coleman will likely end up being one of the few Browns players that will worry Dean Pees. Percy Harvin is a much better comparison for Coleman, although hopefully a more durable version. Coleman has a skill set almost exactly the same as Harvin’s, if not better than Harvin’s. For Coleman to succeed in the NFL, he does need to develop a toughness in the middle of the field like what Smith possesses. If Coleman can do that, he can be an elite receiver in the NFL, but a Steve Smith comparison at this point is just flat out unfair.