Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #26 Jourdan Lewis

Jourdan Lewis
Name: Jourdan Lewis
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Cornerback
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #26
Last year: I ranked Lewis #71 and said he would play on special teams. He played in all thirteen games and had 17 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Coming out of high school, Lewis looked slight and physically unready to play college football. When fall camp rolled around, he was 170 lbs. and looked the part of a guy who could see a little bit of time on the field. It became apparent in the middle of the season that Lewis has the coverage chops to make it at this level. He stuck to receivers well, and even on completed balls, he was rarely more than a step away. At times it took a perfect throw to beat him. By the time spring arrived, rumors were persisting that Lewis had supplanted Blake Countess as one of the starting cornerbacks. Then Lewis proceeded to make two interceptions of Devin Gardner in the spring game.

I do not believe that Lewis will start at corner this year, unless someone gets injured. Countess is an All-Big Ten player, and fellow corner Raymon Taylor has been starting for a couple years. What Lewis offers is the ability to come off the bench and play like a starter. He has good speed and awareness, and he can break on the ball as well as anyone on the team. He could also play in nickel situations. Michigan has a glut of cornerback options with Countess, Taylor, Lewis, Channing Stribling, and incoming freshman Jabrill Peppers, who has been reportedly been calling himself a safety while head coach Brady Hoke publicly insists he'll play nickel corner. I'm only half-joking when I say that Michigan's best lineup against the spread might be a dime look with four (or three) defensive linemen, Jake Ryan at linebacker, two safeties, and a quartet of Countess, Taylor, Lewis, and Peppers. At the very least, Lewis will establish himself as the heir to a starting spot in 2015.

Prediction: Backup cornerback; 20 tackles, 1 interception


  1. With you on the dime, though I'd drop the "two safeties" bit and just say the 6 DBs would include Stribling and Wilson (along with Countess, Taylor, Lewis, and Peppers).

    Closer to reality, this team may play two linebackers more often than it plays three. Lewis will be the first guy in and he'll likely be there in the 4th quarter. Like a great 6th man, he may be more important than a starter, even though he is nominally a backup. So, he may actually deserve to be ranked above Morgan or Ross.

    I'd rate Lewis higher than this (#21). I think he has showed he is a starting caliber CB that has to see the field. The hype seems warranted and was backed up by quality play last year and in the spring practice. But given all the depth at CB, this is pretty fair.

    The one bit I disagree with is putting Lewis behind Peppers. Realistically, if Peppers plays CB and he is as good as Lewis was LAST YEAR that's a very good outcome. The wildcard is that Peppers may play safety, where his value would be much higher to the team. But if you think he's a cornerback, I'd be surprised if he was outplaying Stribling, let alone Lewis. Peppers is a recruitniks dream come true and everything about him screams success. But we saw Dymonte Thomas be far less than hoped and even Woodson struggled as a freshman at times.

    Peppers is going to be a freshman and is human (I think...)

    Lewis has already hit his speed bumps and seems ready to breakout into a bigger role.

    1. Well said, people forget the best CB ever at Michigan and arguably in college did not start until midway through his freshman season.

    2. 21? Are we lost without Lewis? No. He's not a starter. We even have another good backup in stribling. I think 26-30 is a good range for him.

      In your 6 db scenario you have 5 corners.

      Peppers also offers the ability to be a quality return man. He's also an athletic monster that could grab a starting spot by year's end.

    3. Lewis is a potential impact player. The fact that it's even being discussed that he may surpass Taylor and Countess speaks to his talent. CB is deep, but it's also a very important position. No one blinks at having the 3rd LB listed in the top 20, but the 3rd CB may be even more important.

    4. "athletic monster that could grab a starting spot by year's end"

      That's what people said about Thomas last year. Lewis may have ALREADY grabbed that starting spot even though he hasn't yet been on campus a full year.

    5. Okay, let's not get hyperbolic. Lewis is three days away from starting his second fall practice, and technically, he HAS been on campus for MORE than a year. For all intents and purposes, he's a college sophomore, not some child prodigy who just got rid of his binky.

    6. Lank: We run a 4-3. That 3rd linebacker starts for us. We run a nickel coverage in obvious passing situations for the 3rd corner back. The 3rd corner back(at most a part-time player) isn't more important than the 3rd linebacker (who could theoretically never leave the field).

      "The fact that he may surpass Taylor and Countess speaks to his talent." Sure - he's a talented player. But that "fact" could be coach speak, or internet message board rumors. Have you been to practice watching him take all his snaps with the ones?

      Thomas is athletic (might not call him an athletic monster) who was being moved to DB after playing LB in high school. It's not a mystery as to why he didn't get on the field much as a safety last year - he's never played the position.

      Thunder: I hope you aren't referencing anything hyperbolic I said, because I didn't exaggerate anything.

    7. I'm referencing Lanknows' discussion that Lewis "hasn't even been on campus for a full year."

    8. @Thunder - Lewis may have grabbed the spot in the spring, if you believe the Rivals analysts but OK - he's been there a year longer than Peppers already and shown the coaches a lot more in that time.

      @Anon - we are playing mostly spread teams this year and CB is our deepest position. I'm fairly certain the coaches have made public their desire to improve coverage. They've also grumbled about LB play a good bit and reshuffled the scheme around in part to try to improve it. Meanwhile, Lewis and Stribling looked extremely promising last year, and now we're adding Peppers. The best players are going to play.

      You're right to point out my misuse of "fact".

      Yes, I have been to practice and watched all the ones. Time for the big reveal -- I'm actually Brady Hoke.

      I should probably change my handle now. Is Anonymous taken?

    9. very interesting debate, i can see merits of both arguments. to the comment re 4-3 base and 3rd LB vs 3rd CB, its honestly not too far from 50/50 split. i forget the exact %, but i saw stats where mich played nickel approx 40% of snaps last season. obviously this can be skewed a bit if playing more spread type teams (rather than 12 games vs wiscy) or employing prevent elements for extended periods in games...but 40% of snaps with 5+ DBs seems logical for many modern D's, especially those not utilizing hybrid players in back 7 (ie SPUR LBs).

      so mattison likely rolls out a nickel CB approx 40% of D snaps this yr, meaning the 3rd CB will play almost as much as the 3rd LB - and that 3rd CB could potentially play more total snaps on season than 3rd LB if mattison runs a heavier rotation at LB (morgan / bolden / gedeon / ross / jenkins-stone etc) vs slightly lighter DB rotation like last year. and if mich plays less zone than last year (as theyve mentioned numerous times) then mattison should trot out nickel D more frequently to match 3-WR sets (especially since hed like to pressure more off the edge which is not really strength of morgan / bolden etc.

      just my 2 cents though on base D and personnel. but the best part of debating the relative value of 3rd CB and 3rd LB is that mich finally has some depth (experienced and athletic depth) at both positions. its great (and a relief) to once again have multiple options stoked by hokes "competition" at numerous spots, particularly LB and CB - even if morgan and/or bolden were to get injured they could still call on gedeon who i think will be better than both of them...and while countess and taylor were both decent last year (and no doubt opportunistic w INTs), lewis represents a legit alternative game 1 and stribling and peppers hopefully will be able to hold their own in press man situations.
      interesting debate - this countdown offers nice little tool to stir the pot for football junkies over the summer

  2. Cornerback -- the one position on the field where I truly feel great about our team this year and I also get happy reading about it instead of depressed. The fact that Countess is in a legitimate position battle speaks volumes about how stacked we are at that position.

    1. I know Countess had a lot of INT's but he was also beaten and beaten soundly for TD's and big plays consistently. They need to start proving it on the field, in the heat of the battle.

  3. I think Lewis will start. The D will play more press coverage in 2014 and that's Lewis's strength.

    1. I tend to agree. There have been several practice observers adamant about Lewis being the best man-to-man coverage guy on the team, to where I buy it. Apparently the coaches have told some people this as well. I think that's enough to earn him a starting spot. Hoping that Countess is back to full speed - I can't see him sitting on the bench as he is a very instinctive player. So my two cents are for Countess and Lewis.

      Taylor is solid, but not at a level where he should be keeping a good player off the field. Regardless, like the RB position, I think the CB pecking order will be settled to some extent on the field in games. All of these guys will get their shots. And then you throw in the nickel position, and there is a lot to sort out.

    2. Maybe he will. But if so, I think it means Countess or Taylor are at safety or we are playing nickel personnel, because those guys are too good to just sit the bench.

  4. Peppers will start day 1 as a true freshmen, he is heads and shoulders above anyone on this roster. The athletic ability is bar none. Peppers needs to be in the top 10 anything else is absurd.

    1. Peppers is also important from a morale standpoint. UM does not recruit a top 2 player very often. Regardless of whether or not UM needs him to play immediately at a given position, the program needs a spark and a lot of eyes nationally will be on Peppers.

    2. Yeesh. I hope "we need a spark" and PR don't play a big role in the coaches decision-making about playing time. I'd rather they focused on winning football games. My guess is they do.

      Peppers may 'just' return kicks this year. Or he may get a few plays on offense if he is buried on D. We don't know anything yet. That's why I was SMDH at people who were calling Thomas the 'starter' at nickelback last year.

    3. There is no comparison between Thomas and Peppers though. Peppers is on a different level - he was arguably the top "skill" player in his entire recruiting class. National journalists are calling him the biggest impact freshman in all of CFB. Some college recruiters were labeling him as a once every 3 or 4 years type talent. Thomas was a very good prospect, but I don't think he was even in the Rivals 100 at the end. They are just not comparable, especially from a national media perspective.

      Peppers probably won't come in and be an all-american right away or anything. But it would be a nice boon for Hoke and the program if he is able to generate some buzz and make some highlights here and there. Hoke needs to get UM's mojo back this fall. And aside from W/L, having a super high visibility freshman come in and play well would help with that.

    4. I'm not arguing that Peppers isn't a special talent...but he's still a freshman and, at the very least, that introduces a high level of uncertainty.

      My best guess is that he starts at Safety and returns kicks. But if he's 'just' a part-time nickelback, I'm not going to be disappointed because that's well within the realm of possibility too. He could end up at WR or RB too, for all we know.

      Thomas had a nice highlight last year. I'm not sure that buzz-mojo mattered much by January.

  5. Everybody keeps bringing up peppers but he has yet to play a college down. I won't believe the hype until I see it