The Detroit Lions signed 11 undrafted free agents following the 2014 NFL Draft. They get a chance to continue their quest of earning a roster spot in the league.
The Lions are hoping to find immediate contributors among this bunch. Last year, they were able to find two players who helped them on the field. Tight end Joseph Fauria, who went undrafted out of UCLA last season, was second on the team with seven touchdown receptions as a rookie. Tackle LaAdrian Waddle wound up starting eight games last year and figures to be a starter this season.
With under three months until the team’s first preseason game, these guys have a lot of work to do to prove themselves worthy of a roster spot. It all starts with rookie minicamp, and Detroit’s begins tomorrow. Here’s a breakdown of the Lions’ undrafted free agent signees in alphabetical order:
1. Chad Abram, FB, Florida State
Abram started at fullback last season for the national champions. He helped blocked the way to 2,884 yards rushing on the year. While he didn’t receive many carries, he showed promise as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He could make his way on special teams because he has heart.
2. Alex Bullard, G, Tennessee
Bullard has started 25 games at guard or center over his career at Tennessee. He entered the draft listed as a tackle, meaning he is capable of playing any position on the offensive line. His versatility is likely the reason he was given this shot.
3. Jerome Couplin, S, William and Mary
The 6-foot-2 Couplin was a three-year starter in college. Lions’ secondary coach Alan Williams played his college ball at William and Mary and likely played a role in this signing. Couplin has the size and the speed to make the roster.
4. James Franklin, QB, Missouri
The dual-threat Franklin led Missouri to the SEC Championship Game last season. The Lions never had a quarterback fall to them during the draft, and immediately signed Franklin afterward. He will compete with Kellen Moore for the third-string quarterback slot.
5. Justin Jackson, LB, Wake Forest
Jackson has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker in 37 games at Wake Forest. He is athletic and capable of bringing speed off the edge, but nothing about him really stands out. He was likely signed due to his versatility but will be a long shot to make the roster.
6. Cornelius Lucas, T, Kansas State
Lucas was a starter at left tackle the last two seasons at Kansas State. The 6-foot-9, 328-pound tackle received a $20,000 signing bonus from the Lions. The team is high on this guy and why shouldn’t they be? They found a similar undrafted tackle last year who ended up being a starter, and Lucas is even larger than Waddle is. He is also capable of playing either tackle position.
I love the signing of Cornelius Lucas most of all. He went undrafted mostly because a foot injury caused him to miss the combine and have a late pro day. This tackle is a monster in terms of size, and he can become a starter for Detroit in time if he can maximize his body’s potential.
7. Gabe Lynn, S, Oklahoma
Lynn has experience playing both safety and cornerback at Oklahoma. He was brought in to increase the competition in the Lions’ weakest unit. Lions’ defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has always preferred taller defensive backs, so the 6-foot Lynn will need to prove himself on the field if he wants a chance.
8. Jacob Maxwell, TE, Louisiana Lafayette
The 6-foot-4 Maxwell becomes the fourth tight end on the Lions’ roster. With Fauria, first-round pick Eric Ebron, and Brandon Pettigrew all capable of making plays in the passing game, Maxwell will need to look to contribute on special teams or as a blocker.
9. D.J. Morrell, G, Old Dominion
Morrell started all 25 games he played at Old Dominion after transferring from junior college. He started mainly at guard, but also played tackle when the team needed him to. He checks in at 6-foot-5, weighing 325 pounds. He will have to prove himself to be better than Bullard in order to have a chance at making the team.
10. Andrew Peacock, WR, Appalachian State
Peacock will add depth at the wide receiver position coming into training camp. With Nate Burleson gone, Jeremy Ross thriving on special teams, and Ryan Broyles still rehabbing his most recent injury, the slot position is thin. Peacock will get his shot to prove himself while competing with sixth-round pick T.J. Jones.
11. Mohammed Seisay, CB, Nebraska
Seisay was a contributor for Nebraska the last two seasons, mostly playing in their nickel and dime packages. His size was likely the reason he was signed — the 6-foot-2 Seisay fits Austin’s defensive back mold.