Seahawks Position Battles: Derrick Coleman Vs. Will Tukuafu


New posts in the Seahawks Position Battle series:

Backup Tight End: Luke Willson vs. Cooper Helfet vs. Anthony McCoy

Backup Defensive End: Greg Scruggs vs. Demarcus Dobbs

In the first installment of our Seahawks position battle series here at ECS, we will be discussing the fullback battle between Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu.

After going undrafted in 2012, and being waved be the Minnesota Vikings, Coleman made the Seahawks 53-man roster in 2013. At the time, he likely only made the cut because starter Michael Robinson came down with a serious illness during the preseason and lost more than 30 pounds. In the words of FanSided CEO, Adam Best, someone in Coleman’s situation has to “make yourself so dang valuable, that we have no choice but to hire you.”

Coleman did just that.

He blocked effectively for Marshawn Lynch against some of the best defenses of 2013 (Carolina, San Francisco, Arizona, Houston), starred on special teams and showed off his versatility in the passing game. One sweet catch in particular might have stuck in your mind. No? OK, here it is.  

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However, in 2014, he lost his job the same way he got it: Injury, (OK, so injury and sickness aren’t the EXACT same but close enough!). He broke his foot in week six during pregame warm-ups. So the Seahawks looked to an old foe from Santa Clara in Will Tukuafu.

Now Tukuafu had played defensive line his entire career, but Pete Carroll saw FB qualities in him and lined Tukuafu up in front of Marshawn. In the next three games, Lynch would run for 331 yards and SIX (!!!!!!) touchdowns.

But now, they are both healthy and Coach Pete has some decisions to make.

Seahawks FB Battle: The Case For Coleman

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman (40) against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest thing that Coleman has over Tukuafu is experience. Experience in Seattle’s system and experience at the fullback position, or offense in general for that matter. Tukuafu is a big body, but he is still learning the position. And a zone scheme is one that does take some experience.

Coleman has great hands for the position, and Darrell Bevell loves to call the fullback slip. He is a really good all around athlete with good speed and lateral quickness, and thus a solid special teamer as well.

Seahawks FB Battle: The Case For Tukuafu

As mentioned, the play-calling might have be a little bit more vanilla with him in the game, but when you have Marshawn Lynch, I would hope the Seahawks don’t try to get too cute in short-yardage situation anyway (*sigh).

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Tukuafu, at 6’4″ 290 pounds, and Lynch, the most powerful runner in recent memory, might be the most intimidating backfield in NFL history. And it doesn’t take experience or knowledge of the offense to run through the hole and flatten anyone who gets in your way. Tukuafu can definitely do that.

Another thing he can do is play on the defensive line if the injury bug bites the Seahawks again like it did in 2014. Apparently, the Seahawks also are considering lining Tukuafu up at TE.

But the biggest knock on Tukuafu is his past. No, he hasn’t gotten in trouble with the law or in the locker room or anything like that. By all accounts, he’s a great dude. But he has been an Oregon Duck and a San Francisco 49er. Hopefully he somehow escaped from Eugene and Santa Clara with his soul still intact.

Seahawks FB Battle: Prediction

This goes against conventional wisdom, but I think that Carroll finds a spot for both of these guys. Versatility is key when you get down to those last few roster spots, and both of these guys can play effectively in two of the three phases of the game. They could both see some time in the backfield, but undoubtedly in other places as well.

I would expect Coleman to take about 70% of the snaps at the fullback spot. But I see the Seahawks finding a way to get Tukuafu on the field for 10-15 snaps a game as well, and he will provide depth for an aging and injury-prone defensive line.

Next: Seattle Seahawks: Grading The Entire 2015 Draft Class