October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft Watch List: Week 9

 

The Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft Watch List gives you college football players to watch each Saturday who could be on the Lions’ radar next spring.

UCLA (#12) vs. Oregon (#3)

7:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN

Anthony Barr (#11), OLB – UCLA

One of my favorite eligible prospects for the 2014 draft, Barr is top-ten material and it’s likely the Lions would have to trade up to get him. A former running back who made the switch to linebacker just last season, Barr’s athletic prowess allowed him a nearly seamless transition to the defensive side of the ball where he led the team in sacks (13.5), TFL (21.5) and was second on the team in tackles (83). Barr utilizes quick feet, excellent balance and the lateral agility that allowed him to garner All-State honors at RB in California to side-step pass blocks with ease and wreak havoc in the opposing team’s backfield. His exceptional lower half flexibility, acceleration and speed in pursuit provides him with the versatility to play at strong-side backer, though he would be equally as effective with his hand down in a 43 front or outside in a 34 front similar to that as deployed by UCLA. In addition to his rare athletic attributes, Barr excels in the classroom and was recognized as an honorable mention all-conference academic team member.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (#14), CB – Oregon

In his first season as a full time starter, Ekpre-Olomu attracted first-team Pac 12 all-conference honors as well as third-team All-America recognition. The “All-Vowel” team candidate is a physical and instinctive defender, as demonstrated by his numbers from last season: second in the country in forced fumbles (6), seventh nationally in passes defended (20) and four interceptions. Though he lacks ideal size (5-10, 190) and speed (4.52), Ekpre-Olomu is a solid run defender and has shown the versatility to be productive in off, press and man coverage. Clearly the Lions could use more help in the secondary and Ekpre-Olomu has the skill set to be an productive nickel back at the next level.

Taylor Hart (#66), DE – Oregon

At 6-6, 292, Hart possesses prototypical size for the position and the versatility to play as a base end in a 4-3, five technique in a 34 front or move inside. Power is the name of the game for the former Tualitin product, who utilizes excellent upper body strength to collapse the pocket when bull-rushing and possesses the power in his lower half to anchor vs. downhill run blocks. Though he lacks the explosiveness and speed of the top pass rushers in the game, Hart is a lunch-pail type player who hustles from snap to whistle and makes plays on second effort. His high motor and ability to play at multiple positions along the defensive line will make him a valuable rotational back-up at the next level.

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