NFL Draft

Jalen Embry is going from Detroit to the NFL’s doorstep

Jalen Embry made a name for himself in Detroit before attending Northern Illinois. Now the youngster aims to take his game to the next level.

Jalen Embry has endured. Now he’s trying to scale another hurdle. At least he has help.

Not many aspiring football players have a roadmap they can speak with. Embry has two. His godbrother, Avonte Maddox, is a talented corner with the Philadelphia Eagles. His cousin, Desmond King, just made All-Pro as a return and quality slot man with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Embry, a small corner like Maddox and King at 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, has ample support. While the NFL hopeful met up with King this week in California to train together, Maddox has been lending ample knowledge throughout the grueling process of going from prospect to pro.

“He’s been reaching out every day,” Embry said. “He came to my pro day. We’ll be working out in California together with Desmond King, who’s another family member. … He’s been a huge help and a huge influence.”

For motivation, Embry can look at both Maddox and King. Maddox checks in at a wispy 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds and wasn’t drafted until the fourth round. As a rookie, the former University of Pittsburgh star became Philadelphia’s best cornerback, helping it reach the NFC Divisionals.

King was also a late-round pick, taken off the board in the fifth by the Chargers. The 24-year-old has contributed immediately for Los Angeles, becoming a major part of coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense.

Coming from the west side of Detroit, Embry has had designs on playing football for years. A star cornerback at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Embry fielded offers from Iowa, Wisconsin and most of the MAC schools.

Embry chose Iowa. Thus began the long journey from the Big Ten, to JUCO at Iowa Central, and then finally to NIU in 2016. Once with the Huskies, Embry became a standout, earning the attention of NFL teams.

Despite not being invited to the NFL Combine in February, Embry showed well at the Northern Illinois pro day on March 6. The 22-year-old ran the 3-cone drill in 6.97 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.07 seconds.

On film, Embry shined as a senior. He registered 60 tackles and led the Huskies in pass breakups on the way to a MAC Championship.

“I would define myself as a travel corner,” Embry said. “Being on the top receiver each game last year helped me develop different techniques. … It helped me become a student of the game.”

Embry also showcased his skills on special teams as a returner, a trait that will help him either be drafted in the late rounds or picked up as a priority undrafted free agent.

Just like Maddox and King, Embry has much to prove. Prove he’s big enough. Prove he’s fast enough. Prove he’s worth taking a chance on.

Just more than a month from the draft, he’s ready to prove all those things and much more.

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