William and Mary Safety Jerome Couplin
The Detroit Lions desperately needed help at safety. They watched the best three safeties, two of which fitting what they are looking for, go in the first round. After that, they just passed on the rest of the safeties. Martin Mayhew said afterwards that he felt more confident in the safeties we had on the roster already than he did anyone that was left in the draft. By that, i would have to guess he was focused on a Deone Bucannon or Calvin Prior type who would come in as a punishing hitter and not as much as a cover safety. Both Bucannon and Prior were selected in the first round.
Mayhew did not just sit with what he had though. They had brought in a few safeties prior to the draft for visits. One of them was Jerome Couplin of William and Mary. He ended up signing Couplin after the draft. Mayhew states that he feels Couplin has a very good shot at making the roster. Couplin fits the bill as a prototypical strong safety. He only recorded 5 career interceptions in college but he posted 257 tackles. His senior season alone he had 113 tackles. You do not expect that kind of production out of a free safety but you do out of a strong safety, which is exactly why Mayhew targeted him. Detroit has depth at free safety with Glover Quin and Don Carey, but they are thin behind James Ihedigbo at strong safety.
Jerome Couplin is expected to play special teams if he makes the roster until he can compete for a spot as a safety with the team. It is currently unknown how long it will take Couplin to adapt to the professional game. William and Mary is a small school, so it is safe to say there will be a competition gap he will need to fill before getting comfortable playing in the NFL, much like Chris Greenwood dealt with last season in his first real action since playing at small school Albion. Greenwood showed improvement last season near the end of the season so i suspect if Couplin can make the team, he would be expected to make progress in his second season. Given that he was nominated for award s and hailed as one of the best safeties in his division in college football, it is safe to say he has the talent to play the position, he just needs to adjust to the competition level.