Days before the NFL draft begins, Lamar Louis is preparing to play four positions at the next level: fullback, running back, linebacker and safety.
Oh and one more: a gunner on special teams units.
“I’m an in-betweener,” the former LSU linebacker laughed Monday.
LSU is expected to have four players picked in Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) of the NFL draft on Friday, but a handful of others, like Louis, are readying themselves for the undrafted free-agent market — a competitive world rife with bidding wars.
Franchises battle for undrafted free agents like college coaches compete for high school football players in recruiting.
Already, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound Louis has free agent offers from about 10 teams, including the New Orleans Saints, he said. The Saints want him as a running back/fullback hybrid. The Seattle Seahawks have an offer for him to join as a linebacker/fullback.
At least a half-dozen other teams are offering him as a potential safety, linebacker or a special-teams-only player. Louis’ only private workout came with the Detroit Lions last month, he said.
He’s a long shot to get drafted, according to several projections, but he’s OK with that. Undrafted players get their choice of franchise.
“I’ll be able to pick and choose,” Louis said. “It’s a bittersweet situation. I’d love to get drafted, but, in some cases, it may be better to go that (undrafted) route. My No. 1 goal right now is to get drafted and that’s because it’s always been a dream.”
Mike Detillier, an NFL draft expert for WWL-870, likes Louis as a strong safety in the pros. No matter his position, Detillier said, Louis must focus on special teams.
“If you can play special teams, you’ve got a heck of a shot,” Detillier said. “A guy like Lamar has to be able to make it on special teams.”
Louis realized that even before his senior season in 2015. He approached special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto asking to include him on each one of the Tigers’ special teams units. He was: kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return and, even, field goal block.
Louis’ snaps were limited last season because of the defense LSU employed: the 4-2-5, a five-defensive-back scheme to combat the plethora of spread offenses inundating college football. Louis’ position, the strong-side linebacker, is not on the field in the 4-2-5. Middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith and weak-side linebacker Deion Jones were the only linebackers in that formation.
He might not be playing that position at the next level, though.
Louis is spending his time these days poring over rosters of potential suitors. Why? For the best opportunity to make a team during July training camp, undrafted free agents often join a franchise that’s weak at their position group, said Matt Miller, NFL draft reporter for BleacherReport.com.
“You’re going to look for, ‘Is anybody going to give me a signing bonus?’ Then, ‘What’s at my position on that team?’” Miller said.
Franchises, meanwhile, will switch into recruiting mode as the draft winds down Saturday night.
“It’s so interesting to watch the assistant coaches after the draft,” Detillier said. “They’re on the phone trying to recruit that player to that team.”
The recruiting began weeks ago for Louis, and one of the suitors includes his home-state team. Louis is a Breaux Bridge native who was raised as a Saints fan. His cousin is Fred Weary, a defensive back for the Saints in 1998-2001.
“My whole family is Saints,” Louis said. “Runs in my blood.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.