Detroit Lions Undrafted Free Agents: Need-to-Know Info for Every Signee
Instead, it's time to turn an eye and an ear to the flurry of undrafted free-agent signings. Last year, the Lions found a starting right tackle in LaAdrian Waddle and a tight end who caught seven touchdowns, so these guys do matter.
Before you click through for info on each signee, perhaps we should recap where the Lions stand heading into the frenzy.
With their first- and sixth-round picks, general manager addressed the need for receiving threats with tight end Eric Ebron and wide receiver T.J. Jones. He also added center Travis Swanson in the third to eventually replace Dominic Raiola.
The bulk of the draft picks were spent on defense, with standout linebacker Kyle Van Noy getting snagged in the second round following a trade. Cornerback Nevin Lawson, defensive end Larry Webster and interesting defensive tackle prospect Caraun Reid are all on their way to Detroit as well.
And with the final pick of their 2014 draft, the Lions snagged kicker Nate Freese of Boston College.
In a rare move, the Lions addressed several needs in this draft and really only need to focus on finding a safety and maybe a long-term backup quarterback. Otherwise, Detroit is free to go mining for that diamond in the rough.
Tight End Jacob Maxwell
Jacob Maxwell of Louisiana-Lafayette was among the first two guys who were signed to the Lions shortly after the draft. One look at his measurables will tell you why.
Not only is the tight end 6'4" and 249 pounds, but he recorded a 4.68 40-yard dash at his pro day. He fits the mold of athletic tight ends that the Lions and the rest of the league have been targeting.
If fans hated Eric Ebron in the first round, they're probably not going to enjoy this one bit. Unless the Lions are planning on running five-tight end sets, there won't be any playing time for Maxwell.
The reported TE UDFA, Jacob Maxwell from UL-L, had 12 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns last season. #Lions— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) May 10, 2014
However, the team can't bank on Joseph Fauria improving. Teams consistently bring in competition for the bottom of their roster to keep players from getting complacent as well as to find better talent.
As it stands, it would be surprising if Maxwell beat out Fauria, but he knows too well that this can happen. Ask Tony Scheffler.
Safety Gabe Lynn
The biggest surprise from Detroit's draft wasn't that it took a tight end in the first round; it was that the Lions didn't draft a safety.
Every mock draft had the Lions selecting at least one. However, the board didn't break in a way that made selecting one advisable.
UDFA's signed by Lions so far -- DB Gabe Lynn, Oklahoma; Jacob Maxwell, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) May 10, 2014
The signing of Gabe Lynn should help alleviate some concerns about not grabbing a developmental safety to possibly take over for James Ihedigbo. OK, maybe not completely.
Nothing about Lynn physically stands out. He has decent speed (4.68) and size (6'2", 206 lbs) to pair with an average vertical leap (33"). According to cfbstats.com, he posted 57 tackles and four interceptions this past season.
While there is a need for a young safety, Lynn will probably be a camp casualty.
Quarterback James Franklin
It was a possibility that Detroit would draft a quarterback that it could develop into Matthew Stafford's long-term backup. While general manager Martin Mayhew resisted the urge, he did spring for one afterward.
James Franklin is at least known since he was the quarterback of a Missouri team that won the Eastern Division of the SEC. However, that's about the extent of his fame, as most of those Missouri wins were the result of great defense.
Lions have signed James Franklin, per @RavensInsider. The Missouri quarterback, not the Penn State coach.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 10, 2014
Franklin stands 6'2" and has 230 pounds draped over his frame, according to CBSSports.com. The three-year starter's most productive year was his sophomore campaign, when he posted 981 yards rushing while completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 2,865 yards and 36 touchdowns.
That type of production is eye-raising, but he never came close to matching those numbers again, according to Sports-Reference.com. More than likely, he needs another year or two of coaching before he can be counted on in an NFL game, which means he has a solid chance of making the practice squad.
Safety Jerome Couplin
Jerome Couplin doesn't have the big-name school experience like Gabe Lynn, but the William and Mary prospect isn't likely to be intimidated.
The 6'1", 213-pound safety led his team in tackles for the past three years. As you can tell from the picture above, he doesn't hesitate to mix it up and has a reputation for laying the wood.
He has decent speed with a 4.55 40-yard dash recorded at his pro day. However, the amazing aspect of his athleticism is his ridiculous 41.5" vertical jump. That would have tied for third best at the combine.
Couplin hasn't shown off elite man-coverage skills and would probably need to be hidden in a zone. But he has a chance at making the roster if he can make his mark on special teams and prove that he can be a full-time reserve safety.
Wide Receiver Andrew Peacock
You knew the Lions couldn't live with only adding one wide receiver this weekend. The next one on the move to Detroit is Appalachian State's Andrew Peacock.
He is a small receiver at just 5'9", but he does pack on 192 pounds, which should help alleviate any concern about durability.
With signing of Andrew Peacock, the Lions have three more players from Appalachian State (S. Miller, S. Martin) than Michigan.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) May 11, 2014
Despite his slow speed (4.72), Peacock corralled 79 receptions for 795 yards. Those numbers illustrate that he has trustworthy hands but also demonstrate that he doesn't have the speed to be a home run hitter.
More than likely, Peacock will be a camp casualty unless he can show that he has the skills to stick as a slot receiver in the league.
Offensive Tackle Cornelius Lucas
The Lions didn't draft a top tackle, as some had thought would come to pass. In fact, they didn't draft one at all.
They didn't hesitate for very long to correct that after the draft, inking huge tackle Cornelius Lucas of Kansas State.
K-State FS Ty Zimmerman signs undrafted free agent deal with New Orleans Saints, OT Cornelius Lucas with Detroit Lions— Ken Corbitt (@KenCorbitt) May 10, 2014
The man is a behemoth (6'8", 325 lbs) and played in a premier conference, where he earned first-team Big 12 honors.
He obviously has the size to make the team and possesses quick enough feet to engage rushers. However, he doesn't have great upper-body athleticism or, surprisingly, the power necessary to open holes in the running game.
Basically, the Lions are hoping that something will click, and the big man's game will match his body.
Cornerback Mohammed Seisay
The Lions have signed some athletic defensive backs during this undrafted-free-agency period, but Mohammed Seisay might have the best combination of size and speed of the lot.
He stands 6'2", ran a 4.52 40 and posted an impressive 39" vertical at his pro day. If not for those solid numbers, it would have been difficult for him to gain any traction considering he couldn't crack the starting rotation at Nebraska.
Detroit has been busy adding cornerbacks all offseason. With the logjam ahead of him on the depth chart, it's difficult to see how he makes it out of camp with the Lions. He'll want to use this opportunity to get some film together to shop to other teams.
Fullback Chad Abram
No position on the roster signifies the difference between the new and old coaching regimes as much as the fullback. A year after carrying none, the Lions have signed two in short order.
Congratulations to Former Nole FB Chad Abram on signing with the Detroit Lions! pic.twitter.com/IdJzwWdBgh— FSU Gameday (@FlaStateGameday) May 11, 2014
Chad Abram, fresh off a national championship at Florida State, will have to be spectacular in the preseason to make the final roster. Detroit signed Jed Collins in March and he has experience with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi from his time with the Saints.
However, Collins was only given a one-year contract. If the 6'0", 236-pound rookie is to pose a challenge, he must build on his 4.58 40 and 35.5" vertical.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast, Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is @BrandonAlisoglu.
Guard Alex Bullard
Starting a mini-run on guards is Alex Bullard.
The once Notre Dame transfer started 10 games for the Tennessee Volunteers last year and appeared in 11 total.
Can't wait to get to Detroit!— Alex Bullard (@Raging_Bull72) May 11, 2014
It appears he has been getting ready for his transition to the NFL. He checked in at 302 pounds while at Tennessee, but came in at a monstrous 326 pounds at his pro day, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
And according to Knoxblogs.com, he's had some disciplinary problems in the past. The extent of which don't seem too serious since the penalty was a few missed series, but he won't be given much slack in Detroit.
Guard D.J. Morrell
The Lions don't have a ton of depth along the interior of the offensive line so it makes sense that they would bring in more than one guard to try and bolster the position.
D.J. Morrell has no such discrepencies in weight like Bullard does. Everywhere he is listed, the markings of 6'6" and 325 pounds illustrate a big man with the size to make the jump.
Old Dominion OL D.J. Morrell to the Detroit Lions, according to a source— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) May 11, 2014
Morrell's best quality is probably his versatility. The Lions could be looking for a poor man's Corey Hilliard. It's unclear if he has the athleticism to stick, but he has good power and might be a sleeper.
Linebacker Justin Jackson
Capping off the undrafted-free-agent class is linebacker Justin Jackson from Wake Forest.
#Lions signed Wake Forest UDFA LB Justin Jackson & invited EMU's Kalonji Kashama & Hillsdale's Brett Pasche to rookie camp— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) May 12, 2014
He's an interesting prospect.
He has the type of athleticism that the Lions need at the position by virtue of his 4.46 speed. He also has the raw strength with 27 repetitions on the bench at his pro day and an explosive first step, by virtue of his 39.5" vertical.
The back of the roster is carrying Tahir Whitehead, Brandon Hepburn and Travis Lewis. None of those guys have stood out over the past year and none will be given any preference since they are remnants of the past regime.
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