Mobile, Ala. — Entering the 2014 season, Michigan State safety Kurtis Drummond had a chance to elevate his stock to that of a first-round pick after a great junior season.
In some ways, Drummond was more productive. He matched his four interceptions from 2013 and had 11 pass break-ups, five more than the previous season. He also improved from 31/2 tackles for loss to five and even though he led the Spartans in tackles with 72, that didn't match his 91 from the previous season.
Overall, Drummond had a fine season as Michigan State finished 11-2, and he'll certainly be drafted in April. But when making the jump to the NFL, teams look for more than production. Upside is of the utmost importance, and because Drummond didn't make considerable strides from his junior to senior year, he might fall short of that first-round goal.
"He's one of my favorite players in 2013. I know he fell off in 2014," NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. "He wasn't the same guy. I think he tried too hard and I think if you're trying to justify being a big-time guy and making every play, and I think it got him into some trouble.
"I think he could ultimately be a really good addition to someone because I think he can play man (man-to-man defense), I know he can cover over the top and erase some mistakes that happen underneath. I think he's a good tackler when he brings his eyes to everything. I think the Oregon (loss) jolted him and took a while to get his feet back under him."
Evaluations of Drummond are all over the board. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said he's a fifth- or sixth-rounder. ESPN's rankings compiled by Scouts Inc., though, list Drummond as the No. 82 overall prospect and the No. 6 safety.
Over the next few months, Drummond will try to improve his stock, and he used the Senior Bowl as a chance to impress NFL teams, both on the field and in meetings.
"I just say I'm a versatile safety," he said. "I'm a person who understands the game, a person who can make plays on the ball and a person who can come up in the box and make tackles. I'm just a guy who's going to come in and compete, whether it's on special teams or on defense. I'm going to come in, work hard and make an impact."
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Drummond said he can be a leader in the NFL like he was at Michigan State, and he's talked to former Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard, a first-round pick by Cincinnati last year, about how to make the transition. And playing for coach Mark Dantonio, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi (now the head coach at Pitt) and strength coach Ken Mannie helped him for what's next.
"It prepares you for the simple fact that you're going to work hard," Drummond said. "Coming from a program with Ken Mannie involved, you're going to turn into a man. And having a coach like coach Narduzzi, you really learn what emotion truly is. He's a guy that comes out passionate every day."
Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis, a Sterling Heights Stevenson product, won the Senior Bowl's practice player of the week award.
… For anyone who plans to watch the Senior Bowl on NFL Network at 4 p.m. today, there isn't a Michigan player, but Delaware tight end Nick Boyle might cause confusion. The Blue Hens have helmets that look similar to Michigan's, but with a slightly brighter blue.
"I thought I saw one (a Wolverine), but that was a different school," Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford said this week.