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NFL Draft 2016: Corey Coleman as a possible Buccaneers target

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a curious position in the 2016 NFL draft. Not only is there no clear position they're targeting, we don't even have a clear picture of the players they're even considering with the number nine pick. So here's an outside-the-box option: Baylor receiver Corey Coleman.

Most receivers aren't seen as top ten picks -- not Laquon Treadwell, and not Josh Doctson, no matter how much they're praised. The only receiver who I've seen pop up in the top half of the first round with any kind of consistency is Coleman. The Baylor speedster caught 74 passes for 1,316 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, while running a 4.37 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. He's widely seen as one of the top receivers in the draft -- though some love him significantly more than others.

That's confirmed by Football Outsiders, who see him as the best receiver in the draft in their Playmaker system, a statistical model based on production and athletic tests. They see Coleman as clearly the best receiver prospect in the draft, by quite some distance: he's projected at 820 yards and a 99.8% playmaker rating, versus number two Will Fuller's 514 yards and 94.5%.

Coleman's a curious case. He's a speedster who's slightly undersized, but not to the extent that he'd exclusively be a slot receiver in the NFL. He comes from a system with a very limited route tree and will need significant development to prosper in the NFL. That makes him hard to project, but he's also the kind of swing-for-the-fences pick I love at the top of the draft -- the potential for a huge reward, with a decent amount of risk. The safe picks are never as safe as people think, after all.

Coleman would also fit the Bucs roster neatly. Mike Evans is fast, but he's not quite a speedster -- though he has shown the ability to get behind defenses consistently. Coleman's also more shifty than the receivers currently on the roster, while having a lot more athletic potential than, say, Adam Humphries -- no matter how much people love small slot receivers.

I'd be surprised if the Bucs actually draft Coleman at number nine, and he'd be a more realistic pick after a potential trade down. But it would make sense in some scenarios, most notably those where they don't love any of the other options on the board. There's some evidence for that being the case, too.