K-State’s Cornelius Lucas tackles NFL Draft stress

05/07/2014 1:01 PM

05/07/2014 1:01 PM

At some point this weekend, Cornelius Lucas will join the NFL.

Whenever and however that happens will be a joyous moment for the former Kansas State left tackle, but until that moment comes he will be consumed by less desirable feelings.

“This whole process has been stressful to say the least, very nerve-racking,” Lucas said. “It’s a good experience, but I’m just sitting here thinking about how my life is going to change. It’s nerve-racking, I don’t know what the future is going to hold for me. I’m putting my fate in someone else’s hands.”

The good news for Lucas is that he appears on his way to a desirable future. His agent, Marc Lillibridge of Pro Football Syndicate, said all 32 NFL teams have expressed interest in Lucas. He has also worked out privately for the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints. Lucas was held back by a stress fracture in his left foot shortly before the NFL scouting combine, but he recovered within four weeks and bounced back well at his pro day on K-State’s campus.

Most experts project Lucas as a potential late-round pick, but Lillibridge thinks Lucas is a potential sleeper selection.

“He is definitely going to get drafted, and I think it will be higher than most people think,” Lillibridge said. “He had a great pro day. He proved he is healthy. He broke his foot, but he is 100 percent healed. I think some teams were concerned about that, but he showed his quickness and even lost a little weight.

“He may not get talked about nationally like Jake Matthews (a projected first-rounder from Texas A&M) but he is a guy who is going to have a great NFL career. He has great size and the longest arms of anyone in the draft, a real long wingspan. He has great upside.”

Lucas, a 6-foot-9, 328-pound offensive lineman from New Orleans who started at left tackle as a junior and a senior with the Wildcats, is also confident he will succeed at the next level. He skillfully protected the blind sides of quarterbacks Collin Klein and Jake Waters in college, and he hopes to do the same in the NFL. He is also willing to make the transition to right tackle.

His size is his biggest asset. Lucas was the tallest offensive lineman invited to the NFL scouting combine, and he measures up well with current pros.

“To play left tackle you need length and wingspan to keep guys off you and your quarterback,” Lucas said. “My arms help me do that more easily than other linemen. That is one thing the scouts love about me.”

Lucas hopes to hear his name called during the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday and ends Saturday. He plans to watch the draft with his family in New Orleans. He thinks he could be a mid-round selection, but he is also ready to work his way onto a team as an undrafted free agent.

Whatever happens, he thinks playing at K-State will give him an advantage over the rest of his draft class.

“I’m definitely more mentally tough and just more prepared than a lot of these guys,” Lucas said. “Coming from K-State under Bill Snyder, you have to be all of those things. I really practiced those through my five years in college. That’s something that is going to stick with you the rest of my life. K-State showed me how to work and how to work hard and how to be a man and stand up for what you want.”

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