Lions UDFA profile: NC State DT Cory Durden
Another undrafted free agent hoping to make a name for himself in the Detroit Lions upcoming rookie minicamp is a big one. Defensive tackle Cory Durden from North Carolina State
The Lions see enough promise in Durden that the team released Demetrius Taylor, who made the team a year ago as an undrafted defensive tackle. Durden’s significantly bigger frame likely has something to do with it.
Durden measures in at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, a weight that is down from his playing weight of over 315 when he was at Florida State. Durden transferred for his final two seasons and reshaped his body into more of a leaner athlete. His long arms (34.25″) and wingspan (82.5″) are more in line with what the Lions desire on the defensive interior.
Durden had a weird college career. He bagged seven sacks and 28 QB hurries for the Seminoles back in 2019 and was seen as a rising star. A coaching and scheme change didn’t suit him well, eventually leading him to bounce to Raliegh and the Wolfpack. He missed playing with Lions DT Alim McNeill by a year at NC State and somewhat took over McNeill’s role, but he wasn’t overly productive. Durden registered just 3.5 sacks (all in 2021) and 7.5 TFLs in his two years with the Wolfpack.
He uses his length well initially and still has solid power despite the drop in bulk. For Durden to make the Lions, he’s going to need to keep his pad level and center of gravity lower; he tends to slide upright after contact. When he dictates the action, Durden does keep the weight balance low and can anchor, but it’s inconsistent across his game film.
Finishing is also not something Durden excelled at beyond his sophomore year. He’s not quick enough to slip through cracks in the line, and his pursuit speed and lateral range did not stand out. His lost weight didn’t make Durden much quicker or faster, unfortunately. Durden wins with initial pop from his hands, strength in his shoulders and base (when he stays low) and a visibly strong motor that doesn’t stop until the last echo of the whistle.