Mayhew excited about undrafted free agent class

Posted May 15, 2014

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew thinks they might have struck gold again with a few players in their recent crop of undrafted free agents.

The Lions have completely changed the way they approach undrafted free agents on the last day of the draft. They designate more time researching and evaluating these players and start contacting them a lot sooner than they used to.

It paid off last year when they signed tight end Joe Fauria (seven touchdowns as a rookie) and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (eight starts as a rookie).

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew thinks the Lions might have struck gold again with a few players in their recent crop of undrafted signees.

“We have some guys we’re excited about,” Mayhew said in a Sirius NFL Radio interview Wednesday. “One guy we targeted early is the offensive tackle, Cornelius Lucas, from Kansas State. I don’t know if you guys know much about him, but this guy is 6-foot-8, 320 pounds. He has 26 straight starts at Kansas State. We think he has a chance to be like a Waddle sort of guy. We’re going to try him at left and right tackle. The guy was productive (at Kansas State).”

Lucas has been working through a foot injury and didn’t participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He had a late Pro Day.

“He might be a guy, like Waddle, who not a lot of people were really on, but we’re excited about this kid,” Mayhew said. “He’s not doing much right now. He’s waiting on his foot to get healthy, but he’s definitely got a chance to make our team.”

Another name Mayhew talked about was safety Jerome Couplin, (6-2, 215) from William & Mary. A three-year starter, Couplin finished his career with 257 total tackles (158 solo), 4.5 tackles for a loss, five interceptions, 21 passes defended, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Jerome CouplinS Jerome Couplin (Photo: AP Images)

“He’s also another guy we targeted early in the process," Mayhew said. “We have Alan Williams (defensive backs coach), who’s a William & Mary guy. He was talking about this kid. We had a free-agent grade on him, but we started looking at him, and we liked what we saw from him. A lot of production. I mean he had 113 tackles last year.

“Moving around in drill work right now, he’s 6-foot, 215 pounds. He ran 4.55 (40-yard dash). He’s a smart kid. He can probably get into that mix at safety. We’ll see what happens, but at least you have a guy that should be good on special teams based off his production against the run in college and we’re excited about him.”

The third name Mayhew brought up was Chad Abram, the 6-foot, 236-pound fullback out of Florida State.

Abram helped FSU tally 2,844 yards rushing last year. He had seven carries for 29 yards (4.1 avg.) in 2013 and nine receptions for 73 yards and three touchdowns. He caught an 11-yard touchdown in the BCS National Championship game.

“I was at their pro day and he really just caught a bunch of people’s eye catching the ball out of the backfield,” Mayhew said. “He’s almost 6-foot. He’s 240 pounds. He played a big role in teams down there until this year, so we see him as a guy who may have a chance as a fullback/special teams guy to come in and compete.”

Mayhew said there were also a number of players beyond the three mentioned above who the team likes and who will have a chance to make the 53-man roster.