K-State’s Lucas, Zimmerman primed for draft

Jan. 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Kansas State Wildcats offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas (78) during the 2013 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Two draft prospects returning from injuries finally had an opportunity to show what they’re made of during a make-up Pro Day workout Monday morning.

Kansas State offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas (foot) and safety Ty Zimmerman (shoulder) didn’t work out at the school’s original Pro Day on March 11. But both players are now medically cleared, according to their agents.

Lucas, whose stress fracture was discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine, and Zimmerman welcomed the occasion to perform in front of scouts from the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.

“I wanted to prove that I was healthy,” Lucas said. “And I could move.”

The All-Big 12 offensive lineman may have done that by showing no lingering effects from his foot injury. While Lucas didn’t run a 40-yard dash, he appeared to move fluidly throughout offensive line drills.

And not performing in Indianapolis provided extra motivation for Monday’s workout.

“It was fuel to keep training and keep getting better over that period of time from the Combine to now because a lot of guys are done after that,” Lucas said. “I just felt that I needed to keep going on as if the Combine never happened and just make sure that today was all that I could be.”

Lucas’ presence on the field two months after the discovery of his stress fracture impressed Dane Brugler, a draft analyst for CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout.com.

“The foot injury was unfortunate,” Brugler said in a phone interview. “The fact that he battled back, he’s near full health and able to work out for scouts is definitely good news for him. Based on tape, he’s definitely a draftable player.”

The native of New Orleans measured 6-foot-8, 316 pounds on Monday. Lucas had a pre-draft visit with the Miami Dolphins and talked to the hometown Saints, according to his agent, Marc Lillibridge.

Lucas projects as a sixth- or seventh-round pick, according to CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout.com.

“Any way I go – if I am drafted or not drafted – I still have the same mindset that I’m going there to work,” he said. “I’m going there to start and I’m going there to be successful.”

Meanwhile, Zimmerman said he hoped his workout answered concerns about his speed and athleticism.

Anyone questioning the All-Big 12 safety’s speed must now consider two 40-yard dash times where he clocked a 4.64 on his first attempt, and then followed with a 4.59 effort.

“Coming in, I know there have been a lot of questions about my athleticism,” Zimmerman said. “I just wanted to prove that I could run, I could compete, and I can do the same things a lot of safeties around the country are doing. I felt good about that today.”

Still, Brugler has a concern over an area of Zimmerman’s playing style.

Brugler complimented Zimmerman’s ability to play against the run, citing a “hard-hitting aggressive style,” but said there’s worry over Zimmerman’s propensity to make contact in pass coverage.

“He’s going to attract pass interference penalties with the way he plays,” Brugler said. “That’s the biggest thing, in pass coverage he struggles.”

But Brugler said Zimmerman, who measured 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, could find a roster spot based on versatility.

“The fact that he shows well on special teams coverage could help him get drafted,” Brugler said. “Even if he doesn’t get drafted, maybe stick around in training camp to make a roster. Plus the way he plays the game will definitely endear him to coaches.”

Sep 7, 2013; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Ty Zimmerman (12) is congratulated by teammate Randall Evans (15) following an interception return for a touchdown against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmerman projects as a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent. He had a pre-draft visit with the Cincinnati Bengals and talked to the Atlanta Falcons, a league source told ChiefsSpin.com.

In the meantime, the coming weeks leading to May’s NFL Draft for Lucas and Zimmerman will be about achieving a lifelong dream.

Lucas said he’ll be home with family and friends on draft weekend and appeared excited on potentially hearing his name on TV.

“If my name is called, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “First I have to thank God if it is called. Even if it’s not called, I still have to thank God. I can’t even explain the feeling. I just know I’m going to be excited.”

Zimmerman agreed, but also reflected on his K-State career and gave credit to what he learned.

“I’ve just been blessed to be on a great team these past couple of years, be around some great individuals that have taught me a lot,” he said. “If I get that opportunity, it’s because of the people who have been around me and I’ll make the most of it.”

Zimmerman, a native of Junction City, Kan., doesn’t necessarily have a preferred team, but there’s one organization two hours away that he apparently wouldn’t mind.

“It would be huge,” Zimmerman said on if he landed in Kansas City. “I grew up a Chiefs fan, my uncle has season tickets and I used to go to games with my dad growing up.

“I was blessed to have this opportunity here where my family is 20 minutes away, they’re at every game. If I had that same opportunity where my family can get there, travel and see me play, for them to go experience that with me, that would be huge.”

Notes: K-State currently has a 20-year streak of players drafted in the NFL … Former K-State quarterback Collin Klein, who recently signed a contract to play in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes, was among a gathering of Wildcat football players present for Monday’s workout observing and encouraging Lucas and Zimmerman.