Dylan Drummond’s flub shows why he has a shot to make Detroit Lions’ 2023 roster

Detroit Free Press

Dylan Drummond lined up in the slot on the left side of the Detroit Lions‘ formation on Friday night, and he recognized the coverage.

One of the things that makes Drummond so special is his ability to pick up plays, understand schemes and read defenses.

A cornerback was lined up against him, so the wide receiver knew what was going to happen.

“I had a corner, so that’s alerted against man (man-to-man coverage),” he said. “So we know, that’s where you want to go.”

ON THE SQUAD? Predicting Detroit Lions 53-man NFL roster: Tough decisions await at QB, WR, DL

STOCK WATCH: Lions’ Maurice Alexander’s return TD helps chances: ‘One of the best days’

An undrafted rookie, Drummond is known for his intelligence on the field and off. He was a finance major at Eastern Michigan, and he was named academic All-MAC for five straight seasons.

On Friday, there was less than a minute left in the first half against the New York Giants, and the Lions were going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4.

Lions receiver Jameson Williams was lined up far left. At the snap, Williams cut inside and crossed the field, as Drummond ran to the goal line and cut left.

Drummond had beaten cornerback Cor’Dale Flott, a 2022 third-rounder who appeared in 11 games with the Giants last season.

“I think I gave him a good move and ran to the corner,” Drummond said.

Nate Sudfeld, the Lions’ backup quarterback, also recognized the coverage and lofted the ball to Drummond in the left corner. The ball was behind Drummond, and he had to stop, turn and jump for it. Drummond was a long jumper in high school.

Up in the stands, his parents — Wayne and Trish Drummond — were overcome with joy, watching their son play in an NFL game, even if it was an exhibition.

“Surreal,” Wayne said later. They were just so thankful to God for this opportunity — Dylan was raised in a strong, Christian family.

As the ball arrived, Flott reached out and knocked it loose.

Incomplete. Turnover on downs.

“I should have made a better effort to pluck the ball away rather than wait for it to come to me,” Drummond said in the Lions’ locker room after their 21-16 victory. “So I need to make that play for Nate.”

His voice was calm and full of humility — another thing that makes him so darn likeable. He has a maturity about him — again, there were those five years in Ypsilanti.

And he vowed to learn from it. His hard-work approach is yet another thing that makes him special.

There was something else in that quote — a mindset: Make the play for Nate. For his teammate. Not himself. And that’s another subtle thing that makes him so endearing: He’s known for being a good teammate.

Drummond has had an outstanding training camp, impressing coaches with his talent, work ethic and ability — and his attitude. On Friday, when the Lions sat most of their regular-season starters, Drummond was in the starting lineup, a noteworthy accomplishment for someone who wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine.

Drummond was targeted four times and made two catches for 12 yards.

And he has a legit chance to make the Lions roster.

“Obviously, it was exciting,” Drummond said. “It was really fun just to be out there and playing football, especially in front of such an awesome crowd.”

A true longshot

Drummond is living one of the great stories in sports — he is a pure underdog, trying to make the most of an amazing opportunity.

Best of all, he’s doing it with dignity and class.

Drummond is from Cleveland — the baby boy, with three older sisters — and he played football at Cuyahoga Heights, a small high school.

In high school games, he rarely left the field. He played receiver, defensive back, handled punt and kickoff returns and even kicked extra points.

“He had about 12 college offers,” said his father, who is the Cleveland police chief. “Primarily MAC schools, like Ball State, Kent State, Akron, and a few others.”

Drummond accepted a scholarship to Eastern Michigan, which is also revealing.

“They were the first to offer and he’s a loyal kid,” his mother said. “He felt a commitment to them.”

Drummond proved he could do a little bit of everything at EMU, playing receiver, returning punts and kickoffs and developing a reputation for consistency in a program that has had little of it over the past five decades. He played in 52 games for the Eagles, tied for fourth-most in program history. He caught 183 passes — also the fourth-most in EMU history.

And he developed a special relationship with EMU coach Chris Creighton, who had a tremendous impact on Drummond.

“Coach Creighton is a good man,” Wayne said. “Not just a good coach, but he’s just a really good man.”

Dylan agreed: “I just learned how to be a smarter player at EMU. We had a lot of good wide receivers, especially when I was younger, coming up. And they did a great job of teaching me. I was playing early so, like, they did a good job of coaching me up and stuff. And then as I got older, we had a good group of guys in my class and the class below that. We all kind of learned from each other.”

Getting his big break

Still, Drummond was not considered much of a pro prospect.

He did not have a great performance at the EMU pro day — he ran a slow 40. But the Lions invited him to a tryout and he balled out, earning a contract.

“A big relief, like a weight off my shoulders, knowing that an opportunity came my way,” he said. “I had a lot of trust in myself.”

He has continued to improve and impress the coaches during training camp.

“I just try to be a sponge,” Drummond said. “The coaches have been awesome, and obviously, like, all the vets have been amazing. Kalif (Raymond) and Josh (Reynolds) have been really helping me a lot.”

Drummond has done nothing but impress since he arrived at Lions camp.

“We see it,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said on Aug. 3. “He makes plays every day. He really, mentally, can play all the positions. He competes in special teams, and I would say he’s hard to ignore. He’s just hard to ignore. He just — he’s continuing to climb the depth chart, so he’s doing exactly what a guy like him has to do. He’s doing everything right. He rarely messes something up and if he does, he learns from it, he grows and it doesn’t happen again, so he’s doing a good job.”

So, even though Drummond didn’t come down with that ball in the end zone on Friday night — even though he didn’t score — it was an important moment.

“It was a mistake,” he said. “And I can learn from it.”

That kind of talk, that kind of approach, that kind of mentality, is exactly why he’s got a shot.

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

Articles You May Like

Video: Breaking down the Lions RB room ahead of training camp
Top 3 offensive lines on Cowboys’ 2024 schedule should come as no surprise
Cowboys, Lions Fielding Intriguing NFL Guard Combinations 
Training camp preview: Breaking down the overhauled CB room
Watch: Calvin Johnson fights back tears upon learning his Pride of the Lions honor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *