After an solid preseason performance against the Cleveland Browns, Lions rookie safety Jerome Couplin is starting to gain some attention, particularly from head coach Jim Caldwell.
“One of the things that jumped out at you, which you knew from watching in college, but often times you don’t necessarily see it during the first game, just his ability to get in place and position and strike you.” Coach Caldwell speaking on his impression of Couplin. “He’s got some punch and power. He does things so easily that sometimes it can be a little deceptive, but he made a couple real nice hits the other night, so that was good. He’s one of those young guys that’s learning and working at it, but he does have potential.”
I don’t know about you but I am excited for Couplin. The hard hitting-safety may have gone un-drafted but there is no doubt that the young man is talented. During his time at William and Mary, Couplin quickly established himself as one of the nation’s top defensive players and was even a finalist for the Buchanan Award. He finished his career at William & Mary with 257 tackles (158 solo), five interceptions (21 yards), one touchdown, 21 pass defenses, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Although some say that he is unlikely to make the roster because he played at a small school, I have to say that I disagree. He may have come from a small school and have to compete with Glover Quin, James Ihedigbo, Don Carey, DeJon Gomes and Isa Abdul-Quddus, who are currently above him on the depth chart but it doesn’t change the fact that he is tone setter, who the Lions can appreciate and use on their roster or at least on the practice squad.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Couplin already has great size. On the field, he is heavy hitter who squares into his opponent and wraps up which is plus for me, considering so many young players have a bad habit of throwing their shoulder instead of wrapping up their opponent and taking them down.
Besides his great tackling, I also love the fact that he is a very instinctive safety, who makes good reads. In coverage, he has shown that he has the fluid movement and technique to going sideline to sideline but he has also shown that he has the ability to make plays in the middle of the field. Plus, his long arms give receivers and tight ends plenty of trouble in coverage.
Beyond his all-around skill, I really love the fact that he is a leader and someone that a team can feed off with his great energy and enthusiasm. If that’s not enough, he is also an extremely hard worker, who is always eager to get better.
Overall, I think his chances are solid to make the roster, but his best shot at making the 53-man roster, will be based on what he does in the next few preseason games, both on the defense and on special teams. If for whatever he doesn’t make the Lions 53-man roster, I think his chances are good for him to make the practice squad and continue to develop under defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
If you ask me, I think the Lions have themselves an under the radar safety, who is very intelligent, very coach-able and highly competitive and if he is developed right and given a chance, I think there is a distinct chance that he can be something special.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
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