As most of you all know, former W&M Safety Jerome Couplin III is currently vying for a roster spot with Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles. This past week, we at the W&M Sports Blog were interviewed by Vansh Bansal of Philadelphia Sports Nation regarding Couplin’s pursuits! We were asked an assortment of questions about Couplin III’s playing days at W&M and how we project him at the next level. You can check the full write up here at Philadelphia Sports Nation! Below are our responses, enjoy!
1. Couplin was known for his hard hitting in college. Could you talk about what he meant to the Tribe defense, and how he was used? Also anything noteworthy about his time at W&M.
“At William & Mary, Jerome Couplin was absolutely instrumental not only to the Tribe defensive unit, but also to the team as a whole. During his Senior season, he was named a team captain, showing his strong leadership abilities both on and off the field. On the field, his role was pretty well defined for the Tribe. W&M likes to move its safeties around a lot; in so doing, Tribe safeties often play a sort of hybrid linebacker/safety role. Naturally, we saw Jerome around the ball early and often, making big plays around the ball and dealing out monstrous hits. This is where you could say he developed his outstanding tackling abilities. Basically, any time the opposing team carried the ball near him, you knew it was going to be an automatic tackle for the Tribe–and that isn’t an exaggeration. From the safety position his Senior year, Couplin led the team with 113 total tackles, on the way to garnering first-team All America honors from the Associated Press.”
2. How were Couplin’s speed and cover skills at W&M? With the Eagles’ style being two “centerfield” coverage safeties, will Couplin be able to adapt to a cover-first role?
“This will undoubtedly be the big question for Couplin in the NFL. Anyone who saw some of his preseason games with the Detroit Lions last season (we saw just about all of them) knows that he really can lay down an insane hit, even at the next level. However, it seems that one of the reasons he was cut by the Lions early last season may have at least been in part due to under developed coverage skills [but to be fair, he was also in a crowded defensive backfield once everyone came back to health]. As one can imagine, adjusting from the FCS ranks to the NFL game in one quick offseason can be quite a tall task. However, with Jerome’s 81-inch wingspan and big hit ability, he has freakish athleticism that is all but unmatched, even in the NFL. If he can put all of his talents together, receive some good coaching, and adjust to the speed of the League, then we believe he can undoubtedly adapt to a cover-first role. Ultimately, his talents may be best suited for the Strong Safety position, where he can both cover and punish the opposing team’s players with strong tackles throughout the game.”
3. The Eagles have struggled with ball skills in the secondary, one of their downfalls in their three game losing streak at the end of 2014. How are Couplin’s ball skills and ability to make plays around the ball?
“As we remarked earlier, Couplin likely does need to improve some of his coverage skills and adjust to the speed of the game, but he showed great ball skills in the collegiate ranks during his time at William & Mary. One play that strongly stands out comes from the 2012 season in a game against in-state rival James Madison University. This game was a nail biting road test for the Tribe, which was eventually forced into double overtime, so every possession really counted. On one play, the JMU quarterback threw the ball in the direction of his receiver and attempted to loft the ball over Jerome’s head. Little did he know, Couplin has an 81 inch wingspan coupled with an impressive vertical leap. Couplin launched himself skyward, latched onto the ball, and found himself so high up that he literally fell on his back coming down with the interception (you can find the play at 0:33 the highlight reel below). If this doesn’t show you that he has outstanding ball skills and the ability to make plays around the ball, then nothing will. This is just one example of his big play ability and off the charts athleticism.”
4. What do you project Couplin’s role to be with the Eagles this year, as well as the future? Will he make the team?
“As we have seen in the media this offseason, some are saying that Couplin could rise as far as the starting safety, opposite Malcolm Jenkins. While it may be a little premature to believe that will be the case, I would put nothing by Chip Kelly. As Eagles fans have come to realize, the “Mad Hatter” is unpredictable and could at any point decide that he loves Couplin, even inserting him into the Day 1 starting lineup. More objective media sources see Couplin as a sort of project with a high ceiling in this year’s defense. At the least, we at the William & Mary Sports Blog believe he will make the roster as a backup safety seeing some significant playing time on the field this year. At the most, we could see the Eagles coaching staff elevating Couplin to the level of starter if he excels this offseason and shows that he has improved since his time in Detroit a season ago. Either way, Go Couplin and Go Tribe!!!”
Speaking of STARTING with the Eagles, check out this tweet below from this past Tuesday!
We at the Blog want to thank Vansh for the interview and the shout out on his blog! Coincidentally, Vansh is actually an incoming William & Mary Freshman, and will likely be joining me (Davey) and Kyle at the William & Mary Sports Blog in the Fall! LET’S GO TRIBE!!!