Talented player. Troubled past. Player is forced to got to a smaller, lesser-known school than his playing ability indicates he should be attending. Player has an outstanding collegiate career, but is ignored in the NFL draft. He ends up getting a chance somewhere as an undrafted free agent, with long odds of making a team and a short leash where the smallest misstep can bring his NFL dream crashing to a halt.
This is a tale that plays out again and again across the NFL. Earlier in our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the New York Giants will bring to training camp we touched on running back Marshaun Coprich, a player who fits this scenario. Today, we look at another. That would be Roger Lewis, an undrafted player from Bowling Green who is trying to catch on as a reserve wide receiver.
Lewis was charged with two first-degree felonies for an alleged rape while in high school, but was only convicted on one lesser charge, a first-degree misdemeanor. Lewis had verbally committed to Ohio State, but Dane Brugler said in his 2016 Draft Guide that academic issues scared off the Buckeyes and other interested teams. Lewis ended up in prep school, then spent two seasons at Bowling Green. Brugler called the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Lewis "a talented pass-catcher with starting potential down the road."
2015 Season in Review
Lewis caught 85 passes for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns at Bowling Green last season. He finished his two seasons with 158 catches for 2,637 yards, 23 touchdowns and a yards per catch average of 16.7. For what it's worth, Brugler had a fourth-round grade on Lewis.
2016 Season Outlook
We have talked several times about the competition for the final couple of wide receiver spots on the 53-man roster, and Lewis is in the thick of that.
Coach Ben McAdoo was complementary of Lewis' play at the end of mandatory minicamp.
"He comes out of a system that is not necessarily a pro-style system. He was well-coached in college — that [spread offense system] doesn't mean he was not well-coached — but he was well-coached in college. His system is not necessarily what we're throwing at him. We're throwing a lot at him right now," McAdoo said. "We gave him some opportunities to run with the first group today and a little bit yesterday, and he's taken full advantage of it. He's a guy that has a chip on his shoulder, doesn't say much and goes about his business the right way. He's business-like and we like that about him. We feel he has a skill set that we like and we can work with him."
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan also praised what Lewis did throughout the spring.
"Roger Lewis is a young man from Bowling Green that has come in and shown an ability to make the tough catches. He separates, he competes well. He's made some mistakes, like they all do just coming in — there's a big huge learning curve from the system he was in in college to what he's asked to do here," Sullivan said. "But coach Adam Henry, our receivers coach, does a phenomenal job with all the receivers and not just teaching the fundamentals but also the scheme and trying to break it down into concepts they can understand. We've seen some good things from Roger and I'm excited to have him in the mix."
Should Lewis continue to impress throughout training camp and the preseason he could sneak onto the regular-season roster. At the very least, the Giants seem intrigued enough by Lewis's talent to find a spot on the practice squad for him.