Once upon a time, Lynden Trail was a 6-6, 200 pound tight end who accepted an offer to play for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators. He spent a year attempting to bulk up and crack the Gator rotation, but could never get on the field.
Luckily, he found a home at Norfolk State, and became a three-time All Mid-Eastern Conference selection, putting up some gaudy statistics to boot. He finished with 94 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass breakups, and 10 quarterback hurries, among other relevant statistics. Though the Spartans struggled to a 4-8 record in 2014, he's made a good case for himself to become the first player from Norfolk State picked in the NFL Draft since cornerback Don Carey was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2009.
He's mobile, and his 6'7, 265 pound frame could be used in a variety of schemes. He could bulk up and play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, drop some weight and play linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, or even maintain and play tight end.
Trail said it best himself.
"I'm pretty much a robot," he said. "However they want me to mold and shape my body to help my team win, I'm willing to do it."
He's been described as "tall and rangy" by former college coaches, and some have even wondered if Trail could play tight end. His flexibility and range of position are why SI.com's Monday Morning Quarterback named him the draft's most intriguing mystery man.
According to David Hall of The Virginian-Pilot, Trail was trying out for different positions at his pro day. Multiple NFL teams were there, and while the Cincinnati Bengals worked him out as a DE/LB, both the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks had him work out as a tight end.
He also took the criticisms of his NFL Combine workout into stride and improved on his results, most noticeably by posting a 4.77 40-yard dash time, down from the 4.91 he ran at the combine.
Lynden Trail's 4.77 40 at NSU's pro day. pic.twitter.com/sDso4m6K1r
— David Hall (@DavidHallVP) March 19, 2015
Well, there's that whole "what kind of competition did he play against?" stigma that hurts every mid-major player. He's been touted by some as "raw" and scouts have said that he's slow to shed blocks, making him a liability on both sides of the ball. Other criticisms about Trail was that he had a tendency to take wide angles when rushing the quarterback as well as needing to "diversify his pass-rushing portfolio" (you have to love Combine scouts' extremely vague wording).
Trail is a raw talent. I don't think that Trail is your typical guy who couldn't crack an SEC defensive line rotation and is therefore a bust, but his domination at Norfolk State isn't going to translate to the next level either, considering how sporadic it was at times.
Had Norfolk State won a few more games, you likely would've seen him on ESPN, but instead scouts are left to speculate. He's got a lot of size and a lot to learn, but I think some team will be willing to take a seventh round flyer on him, if only for the massive potential that some team will be convinced they can mold into something greater.