As many Tribe fans are aware, recent W&M graduate Jerome Couplin III was picked up by the NFL’s Detriot Lions as an Undrafted Free Agent. This post will reflect on Jerome’s career at William and Mary as well as his chance of making the Detroit Lions roster.
If Couplin does make the Lions’ roster, he would join 6 other fellow William and Mary alumni in the NFL, and mark the second year in a row that a member of the Tribe’s football team made it to the NFL. (B.W. Webb was drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft).
First, we will examine Couplin’s stellar career at William and Mary. A three year starter, Couplin finished his Tribe career with 257 tackles (158 solo), five interceptions, 21 passes defended, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 4.5 tackles for loss. He was a third team all-CAA selection as a junior and first team selection as a senior.
In his Senior year, Couplin led the team with 113 tackles (70 solo), two forced fumbles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 6 pass break ups, and 2 forced fumbles. These numbers earned him CAA Defensive Player of the Week honors, first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, the Sports Network and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, first-team all-CAA selection, and he was chosen as a finalist for the Buchanan Award, which honors the nation’s best Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) defensive player each season.
Clearly, his performance did not go unnoticed by the several scouting departments in the NFL. Scouts from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins were in attendance for William & Mary’s Pro Day. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals showed interest and he Couplin attended private pre-draft workouts with the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens.
At his said Pro Day on March 18, Couplin ran the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds. He also had a vertical of 41.5 inches and a standing broad jump of 11 feet 2 inches. His Pro day results in the 40 yard dash, three cone drill, and bench press numbers tied or beat the top two safeties in this year’s NFL draft (Alabama’s Ha‘Sean “Ha-Ha” Clinton Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor ). Couplin’s results in the standing broad jump would have been the best for a safety in the last 10 years at the NFL Combine and his vertical would have been first among safeties.
On top of these freakish numbers, Couplin has the physical measurables to make it in the NFL. He stands at 6’2” ft. tall, and is 215 pounds. He also has an 81-inch wingspan, garnering him the nickname ‘Osprey.’ Combine these measurables with his numbers at his Pro Day, and you can see why the Lions were eager to pick him up as a UDFA.
[Ignore the ‘William & Mary University’ label in the Video!]
The Lions currently have 6 safeties on their roster, with the starters being Glover Quin at free safety and James Ihedigbo at strong safety, the latter of which we project to be Jerome’s NFL position. The Lions have added 4 more safeties for depth this offseason–making six total safeties on the roster. Even with added competition, we here at the WM Sports Blog like Couplin’s chances of making the team. Even if Couplin makes the team this summer and doesn’t get a chance to play safety right away, he is a player who can thrive on special teams and work his way up the roster.
Michael Rothstein, a writer for ESPN.com, listed Couplin’s chance of making it to the Lion’s training camp at “90 percent. Detroit clearly targeted him as someone it was interested in. The Lions brought him in on a pre-draft visit. His frame — 6-foot-2, 215 pounds — and defensive ability made him an intriguing flier.”
Rothstein followed up by describing Couplin as “having real experience beyond raw talent and an actual chance to make a roster or the practice squad. What he has, those physical gifts, are not things that can be taught, but can be honed, and he is an intriguing option because of all of this. He was considered one of the top defensive players in the FCS, was first-team All-CAA and a first-team FCS All-American. He was also a finalist for the FCS defensive player of the year award. In other words, he might be overlooked, but he can play.”
We believe that Couplin will indeed make the roster for the Lions. Although he may not play a lot of safety in year one, he will impress in OTAs, mini camp, and during the season and garner a spot on the team. Furthermore, the Lions’ current safety duo is far from stellar, so don’t be shocked to see the name ‘Couplin III’ stitched on the back of a starting Lions player’s jersey in the future.
Here’s to hoping that Couplin makes the team, and thrives in his role in the NFL. Go Tribe!
Chances of making the Lions roster: 95%