Hidden among another deep receiver class, Kahlil Lewis from Cincinnati is one who hasn’t gotten much attention. The 6'0″ 200-pound receiver was among his conference's best but wasn’t recognized as such. In his four years with the Bearcats, he caught 168 passes for 2,116 yards and 21 touchdowns. Lewis improved his numbers each season he played and helped lead the team to an 11-2 record and a Military Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
Lewis won’t get as much attention as many of the receivers in this class but that doesn’t appear to be stopping him. Speaking with him, he's clearly ready and motivated for the next level. All he needs is to get one look and someone will see what I saw on TV and his game film.
Me: To get ready for the draft, many prospects will get their body right. They work out harder, become strict with their diets, and some even will go in-depth with their coaches on game film to see what areas they think they need to fix for the next level. How have you been preparing for the NFL? What’s been the biggest struggle?
Lewis: I have been watching a lot of film and learning more about the game of football in my off time now that I don’t have school work. I workout and have a meal plan and only one cheat meal day a week which is Saturday for me. I barely want to cheat my diet now though because now I see how your diet can improve your performance and how you feel, recover, etc. There isn’t a lot of struggle for me in this process because I love to grind and that’s exactly what it is.
Me: At Cincinnati you played both the slot and outside receiver positions, running routes across the middle and down the seams. But where do you think you would fit best?
Lewis: I like playing both and I was fine wherever the coaches needed me, but I love the outside. I love beating press coverage.
Me: I was just about to get to that. To me, watching your film, your ability to run crisp routes and create separation has been maybe your biggest strength. What do you think your best attribute is?
Lewis: I think me being smart helps me overall. Nothing physical or what I do specifically is that much better than the other, like routes, catching; stuff like that. I just study the game and it helps me execute.
Me: What kind of receiver do you try to model your game after?
Lewis: I don’t think I model my game after anyone. I want to be Kahlil Lewis and be the best I can be, but I watch tons of receivers, even when a game is on, I just watch the receivers and DBs, but if I had to name a few Stedman Bailey, Stevie Johnson and Odell.
Me: Every season you played at Cincinnati, you finished the year with better numbers than the previous one. You were catching more passes, scoring more and became your team’s best weapon on offense. How did you develop yourself every season, and do you think that process will translate to the NFL?
Lewis: I think I am getting better every day. I try to improve on something every chance I get but like I said previously, the mind is powerful. I stopped working as hard physically, but I still was getting it in. Not to get confused but like I said, I got smarter. I couldn’t kill my body because I was getting older. I had to take care of myself, so me getting smarter, the game slowed down for me and got easier.
Me: A lot of players get motivation from either a loved one, or trauma, or wherever. It’s what fuels them to be great or even greater than they thought possible. Where does your motivation come from?
Lewis: My motivation really comes from my mom. That’s why I work hard in whatever I do, on and off the field, and it never seems like I do enough because she worked 2-3 jobs all my life and I really hate seeing her tired with a passion, but I don’t let it out. I put that energy into being successful for her.
Me: That’s honorable. Last question. As of right now, you’re a projected Day 3 prospect. Why should teams take a chance on you, and what can you give them to offer?
Lewis: I love the game, I love to compete, I’m a team guy and I love to win. Whatever I have to do for the team's success, I’m doing it with no hesitation. Outside of being a receiver, I can do multiple things on specials teams as well.
Me: Thank you for your time. Good luck with the next few months and on your career as well!
Kahlil Lewis has a lot to prove but it doesn’t appear to phase him. He’s motivated and looks ready for the challenge. Some smart GM will find this smart young man, and make a very smart move.