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.
Oklahoma State (#18) vs. Texas Tech (#15)
7:00 p.m. (EST) – FOX
Justin Gilbert (#4), CB – Oklahoma State
An experienced cornerback in a pass-heavy conference, Gilbert entered his senior year with 26 straight starts under his belt and an impressive special teams’ resume. His 2012 season was especially productive, with 63 tackles (fourth on the team) and a team-high nine pass break-ups, which put him in the top ten in the Big 12. Perhaps even more remarkable was his production as a kick returner, where he owns the OSU record and is tied for the Big 12 record with five career kickoff returns for touchdowns and is second all-time at OSU and in the Big 12 Conference’s top 10 with 2,228 kickoff return yards (26.5 average). At 6-0, 200 lbs., Gilbert has the size and strength to hold up vs. bigger receivers, yet possesses surprising fluidity for a taller cornerback. Though he’s a little tight coming out of breaks when playing off the LOS, Gilbert is physical in press and showcases decent recovery speed when asked to turn and run. In terms of ball skills, his turnover productivity dipped in 2012 after a five INT 2011 season; however, he’s instinctive and does a good job of attacking the ball in the air, pulling in four INTs through seven games this season.
Jace Amaro (#22), TE – Texas Tech
Amaro could be the answer for a team in search of another receiving threat to take the pressure off of Calvin. Opposing defenses have struggled to contain the athletic receiving tight end, who has put together an incredible season with 64 receptions for 861 yards, good enough for 10th in the nation. At 6-5, 257 lbs., with the speed to gain separation down the seam, Amaro presents a nightmare match-up for safeties and linebackers. He does a good job of using his size to box out defenders in coverage and possesses excellent hands to attack the ball in the air, running with nice power to gain yards after contact. Though he’ll need to add strength to improve his ability as a blocker, the Lions’ offense would benefit greatly from a player with his size/speed ratio and the versatility to line up anywhere along the line.
Eric Ward (#18), WR – Texas Tech
Production is the name of the game for Ward, who had 80-plus reception, double-digit touchdown seasons in 2011 and 2012. He’s on pace to continue that trend in his senior year, with 46 receptions, 541 yards and five touchdowns through eight games, including a nine reception, 106 yard two touchdown performance in his last match-up vs. Oklahoma. Though he lacks elite speed, Ward has the size (5-10, 205), route-running ability and reliable hands to be an effective slot receiver. With the injuries the Lions have experienced at receiver in recent seasons, a sturdy, reliable pass-catcher who can be had in later rounds may be just what the offense needs.