CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman considers Baltimore Ravens pass catcher Steve Smith Sr. to be a mentor and role model, and there is a mutual sense of respect and admiration between the AFC North Division rivals.
A veteran wide receiver for the Ravens and formerly, the Carolina Panthers, Smith paid close attention to Coleman, as well as another Browns rookie, Jordan Payton, coming out in the 2016 NFL Draft, and very much looks forward to competing against them when Cleveland travels to Baltimore for a Thursday Night Football game at M&T Bank Stadium.
“Coming out of college, there was Corey, Jordan Payton and (New York Giants’) Sterling Shepard, those three guys I really kind of watched as far as wide receivers and I kind of thought they would be very impactful versus relational, so I just kind of watched how they play,” Smith said in a conference call with the Cleveland media.
“Those three guys I really watched. The Ravens, we had the opportunity to talk to those guys. They asked me my opinion of them and I gave my opinion of those three guys and also, kind of sent a little message to my wide receiver coach when he interviewed them to give my information. That is kind of how I did it.”
Despite missing six games with a broken hand, Coleman has turned 10 catches into 214 yards and two touchdowns.
“One of the things that was interesting is they say that he can’t really run the full route tree because of the ‘offense that they run,’ but I think he has the ability to run the full route tree,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, I like the dog in him.
“I just love the way he plays and some of the things I have heard by the way he handles himself at practice. It is one of those things you can’t pinpoint. It is more that you can see it as a wide receiver, what he has and what he does not have. He has a lot of great attributes as a wide receiver, even as a young player.”
Despite comparisons to himself, Smith wants to see Coleman to make his own name in the NFL rather than trying to repeat the success of any other player.
“I think Corey Coleman is going to be a great player with his name,” Smith said. “The reason I say that is guys want their own names. They don’t want to be named after someone. That is kind of what I think. He is going to make a name for himself that is going to be a pretty respectable name.”