Cornerback Donnie Lewis, Jr., who was originally selected by the Cleveland Browns as the 221st pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, participated in the voluntary veteran minicamp as a tryout player. He was signed to the Broncos on April 27th.
Lewis’ time in the league has been spent patiently waiting — from being waived, to being signed to the practice squad, being waived, signed again to the practice squad — and he bounced from Cleveland to Cincinnati before landing in Denver.
Although he has yet to appear in an NFL game, he played for Tulane University from 2015-2018 where he totaled 160 tackles (7.5 for loss), seven interceptions with 63 yards returned, one defensive touchdown, two fumble recoveries, and 37 passes defended in 44 games.
The story goes that he was drafted to the Browns, then waived that August. They signed him to their practice squad that September shortly before releasing him, which was shortly before they re-signed him to the practice squad. Apparently Cleveland was having a hard time making up their minds.
As for his journey with the Bengals, it started on the practice squad in November of 2020 and he eventually ended up waived in August 2021, before he was waived again in September.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, some of Lewis’ strengths in college included a ball-hawking mentality, precise footwork, finding and tracking deep balls, and plant-and-drive speed. Some of his noted weaknesses, however, were high numbers of allowed touchdowns, slower long speed average, and difficulty in controlling his tackling movements in space.
All of these considerations, of course, were prior to his NFL career. He’s now on a completely different stage with a different set of teammates, opponents, and schemes.
It appears that Lewis gets another chance to prove himself, and he’ll be doing it in a room that includes Ronald Darby and Demarri Mathis.
I think it’s safe to say he’s going to be learning from the talent already there, at least for now; but that doesn’t mean he’s sentenced to playing third fiddle forever, or that he’ll be moved to yet another team. I’m interested to see how he fits in at his new home team.