The Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft Watch List gives you some college football players to watch each Saturday who could be on the Lions’ radar next spring.
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. – NBC
We previously highlighted Notre Dame defensive line standouts Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt in their week 2 matchup vs. Michigan; however Michigan State has loads of NFL-caliber talent on defense as well. The 3-0 Spartans face their first real test this week when they travel to Notre Dame.
Darqueze Dennard (#31), CB – Michigan State
A three year starter at CB, Dennard is one of only 11 defensive backs nationally to be listed on the Bednarik, Nagurski and Thorpe Award Watch Lists after compiling 52 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, seven pass break-ups and three interceptions as a junior. An explosive athlete, Dennard’s forte is his quick feet and ability to mirror receivers in and out of their breaks. And, though he lacks prototypical size, Dennard showcases some physicality with his ability to jam receivers when pressing the LOS.
Isaiah Lewis (#9), SS – Michigan State
A 28-game starter, two-time All-Big Ten honoree (2011 second-team, and 2012 honorable mention) and Thorpe Award watch-list member, Lewis may not be a high profile player, but he’s on the radar screen of NFL scouts. At 5-10 and 210 pounds, Lewis has decent size to stop running backs on contact when playing in the box. What’s most impressive (and more important in today’s NFL) is Lewis’ ability in coverage. He showcases fluid hips, the speed to get to the sideline from two-deep and natural ball skills.
Max Bullough (#40), LB and Denicos Allen (#28), LB – Michigan State
Seniors Bullough and Allen possess two entirely different skillsets to form an effective tandem at linebacker for the Spartans. The smallish Allen (5-11, 215), exploded onto the Big Ten scene as a sophomore in 2011 when he led the team with 18.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. Though he saw his numbers dip substantially in 2012 as offenses adjusted their game plan, Allen may find a place to utilize his speed and explosiveness on the next level as a Will who can cover and rush the passer in blitz packages. Though his lack of size will always be an issue, Allen may find a home in a 4-3 defense where he is protected and can flow freely to the ball.
At 6-3, 242, Bullough is a throwback defender who led the Spartans in tackles in 2012 with 111, and posted 12.5 tackles for loss before receiving First-Team All-Big Ten honors and being named one of 12 Butkus award finalists. Instinctive and physical, Bullough exhibits strong awareness to diagnoses the run quickly, is a sound tackler and is effective at lining up the defense pre-snap. While he lacks ideal speed and range to be effective in coverage, Bullough could find a home playing inside in a 3-4 scheme.