2023 NFL Draft Profile: Jeremy Lucien
After a career year for the Vanderbilt Commodores, cornerback Jeremy Lucien has garnered some interest in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
April 27, 2023
Jeremy Lucien’s football career began at Choate Rosemary Hall High School in Wallingford, Connecticut. During his senior season, Lucien recorded 45 tackles, 10 passes defended and two interceptions en route to a first team all-conference selection and a Player of the Year honorable mention. Throughout high school, he developed a passion for robotics and engineering. In December of 2017, he committed to the University of Connecticut.
After spending the first four years of his career at UConn, Jeremy Lucien committed to Vanderbilt at the end of the 2021-22 season. The cornerback put together a solid career for the Huskies, significantly increasing his total tackles numbers, passes defended and interceptions from when he started to when he graduated. In January of 2022, Lucien announced that he would be joining head coach Clark Lea for his graduate season.
Lucien’s numbers at Vanderbilt might not stand out at first, but the Connecticut native accrued the most total tackles (47) and passes defended (5) of all Vanderbilt cornerbacks. In a conference like the SEC that’s simply loaded with talent at the wide receiver position, those numbers are nothing to scoff at. Being tasked with slowing down receivers like Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt, Ole Miss’ Malik Heat and South Carolina’s Antwane Wells is a daunting challenge. While he faced his fair share of adversity throughout the season, Lucien was resilient and formidable for the Commodores.
Numbers and Measurements
Weight: 199 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.69 seconds
Vertical: 37 inches
Lucien has some size over the average NFL cornerback, who typically checks in at just under 6-feet tall and right around 193 pounds, per Horton Barbell. This certainly posits an advantage, and in conjunction with his impressive vertical, makes him a perfect matchup for some of the bigger receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, because of this, his 40-yard dash is a few tenths of a second slower than his counterparts. Lucien’s lack of speed might be of slight concern, but his height and hops translate exceptionally well to the professional level.
Lucien’s aforementioned size is perhaps his biggest strength. More and more the NFL is seeing receivers with excellent height and athleticism. Lucien — as he did at Vanderbilt — could provide assistance for any team’s looking to match up better on the outside defensively.
This size could serve as a springboard for more than just a height-to-height matchup. Being a little bit oversized can help with contested throws against bigger receivers, particularly in the end zone. With lengthy, athletic receivers comes a fair share of “jump balls,” where a quarterback throws it up to their target in the hopes of them using their size to make a play.
.@VandyFootball @j_luc21 first saw him compete at this year’s Hula Bowl. Been watching his UConn and Vandy film. You can compete at the NFL with his length; toughness; tackling; and IQ. Just needs a chance to prove his value. #nfldraft #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/68VkDibvqB
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) April 13, 2023
Lucien doesn’t have just the size to help disrupt those types of throws, but also the jumping ability, as a 37 inch vertical is nothing to scoff at either. He can get up with the best of them, an essential ability when it comes to defending in the red zone. Of course, Lucien’s pass breakup skills can also be seen in his five passes defended this season, the most among Commodore corners and second-most on the team. Lucien also boasts some serious strength, as evidenced by his 15 repetitions during the bench press event at his pro day, another thing that could aid him in matching up with some of the stronger wideouts in the NFL.
Beyond his physical attributes, Lucien possesses the intelligence needed to both understand the complexities of an NFL playbook and read a quarterback effectively. Lucien had an offer from Columbia University before he committed to UConn, ultimately graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Lucien’s blend of size, strength and intelligence make him an extremely intriguing prospect. Still, there are things that he’ll need to work on if he wants to make his way to an active NFL roster.
Areas for Improvement
While Lucien’s football IQ and physical stature are big bonuses, there is one area of his game that could use some improvement. His lack of top-end speed might make it a challenge for him to play as an every-down corner. His 4.69 40-yard dash time is well below the time of modern NFL corners, who are more likely in the 4.3-4.4 range.
Because of this, Lucien hasn’t spent much time in press coverage, often playing softer coverage and giving opposing wideouts more space. Of course, this might not always be a problem, especially in instances where receivers are running longer developing routes and Lucien gets more of a head start. Those are the types of situations that the corner might thrive in. The problem is that because of his size, he doesn’t possess the lateral quickness to keep up with faster-breaking routes like slants and drags.
So teams can run quick, underneath routes against him until he’s forced to press. Once this happens, the deep ball becomes a legitimate option and teams can try and take the top off of the defense. In order to prevent this, a safety could help over, but having a need for assistance from other parts of the defense certainly inhibits Lucien’s appeal.
For what it’s worth, this weakness is something that Lucien is aware of and working on. He’s currently spending time in Florida, training in an effort to improve his speed. He knows that he’s pretty fast — after all, 4.69 is nothing to scoff at — but he wants to work on his mechanics.
“The main thing I was focused on was my speed and my running technique, because I feel like I’ve always had pretty good top-end speed, but my mechanics have always been kind of lagging behind,” Lucien said in an interview with 247 sports. “So I spent a lot of time kind of refining that while I was down in Florida. They did a really good job. I was definitely really liking the times that I was hitting down there.”
Jaylen Watson, Kansas City Chiefs
Lucien, a projected late-round pick to undrafted free agent, draws plenty of comparisons to Waston. For starters, the soon-to-be second year player for the Chiefs was a seventh round pick in the 2022 NFl draft. Watson checks in at 6’2” and 197 pounds, nearly the exact same measurables as Lucien. The former Washington State Cougar also doesn’t possess the same elite speed as many NFL corners, running a 4.51 40-yard dash.
Still, Watson made a name for himself this season with the Chiefs, highlighting his season with a 99-yard pick-six against the Chargers in September. Perhaps the entire reason Watson — who began as a depth piece — was in the game was to help protect the end zone from Chargers wideout Mike Williams, who is known for his contested catch abilities. Lucien could certainly fill a similar role for a team, providing relief in goal-to-go situations to keep bigger receivers from abusing smaller corners.
Pick 211 (Round 6), Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota pass defense was simply abysmal last season, ranking 31st in the NFL with 266.9 yards allowed per game. They also ranked 22nd in the league in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 58.49% of possessions inside the 20-yard line. The Vikings did well in adding Bryon Murphy Jr. from the Arizona Cardinals, but the departures of Cameron Dantzler, Patrick Peterson Jr. and Duke Shelley certainly hurts their depth. Expect the Vikings to go after a few different corners, especially with some of their earlier draft picks, but adding more depth to provide red zone relief couldn’t hurt.