INDIANAPOLIS — When he found out he would participate in the NFL combine, Jourdan Lewis had to prepare himself.
Despite being a two-time All-America cornerback at Michigan, he knew the next level was about measureables.
So as he got into meetings with teams and they challenged him about how his 5-foot-10 frame would translate, the former Detroit Cass Tech star was glad to push back.
“When they talk about my size and things like that, I do kind of get a little feisty,” he said today at the combine. “But that’s who I am. I love competing, I love to prove people wrong and that’s part of why I’m such a competitor and why I love the game so much.”
Some of that may be the way they asked the questions as well, with little tact, saying “You know you’re short, right?”
He was careful not to give a witty response, just admitting it and moving on.
But that was the exception.
“I’m pretty sure (scouts) are aware of my size, so they don’t come to me, asking about my size, so it’s (more) about our technique, what I like to do in press, what I’m comfortable in, playing inside and outside,” Lewis said.
Fortunately for Lewis, he has enough to move on to with two years of impressive film at Michigan.
Teams didn’t get too specific with him on individual games or plays, except for noting the fourth-quarter interception against Wisconsin, when he made a full-extension, one-handed pick in one of the few times he was challenged.
His biggest surprise so far at the combine was the mental rapid-fire questions, which caught him off guard and he didn’t respond as quick as he expected.
But with the focus remaining on football and not off the field (Lewis has a vocal social media presence on diverse issues), he was willing to engage the teams.
The decision to come back to school for 2016, instead of leaving after his junior season was a major benefit in hindsight.
Having an extra season with cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich, a longtime NFL player and coach, enabled him to learn more of game’s strategy and concepts.
The extra year also helped him avoid being awed by the NFL experience.
“Definitely the maturity factor is a good one,” he said. “You don’t understand it when you’re a junior, trying to come out and make some money and trying to fulfill a lifetime dream. When you go back your senior year, you understand, what is your lifetime going to be like, your lifetime goals you’re going to strive for. That was getting your education. … When you understand what happens to people in the league and how short their careers are sometimes, you focus more on your life skills.”
He showed that again the past few months, choosing to train at Barwis Methods in Plymouth instead of a warm weather locale like his teammates, so he could finish his final classes at Michigan.
Lewis sees all the mock drafts and understands that even though he produced, he’s going to be downgraded because of his size. But he showed strength today with 15 bench press reps at 188 pounds and feels he’s in great shape.
Growing up, Darrelle Revis was the player he tried to emulate but once he got to college, his focus has centered on Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes.
“Similar body types, he’s a competitor, he’s very crafty, a technician and I just love the way he competes,” Lewis said.
Even if he doesn’t like the focus on his height, Lewis understands that teams react to trends and bigger corners are the current path.
“It’s definitely a hindrance … in where I’m probably going to be projected,” Lewis said. “That’s nothing I can control. That’s just up to them where they project me to be, but I believe I have first-round potential.”