Sept 22, 2012; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive end Bjoern Werner (95) tackles Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) during the second half of the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Florida State (#5) vs. Clemson (#3)
8:00 p.m. (EST) – ABC
Sammy Watkins (#2), WR – Clemson
Amazingly enough, the Lions may yet again be in the market for a wide receiver and should he choose to leave school early, Watkins may be the most talented at the position in the 2014 draft. After bursting onto the scene as a freshman with 82 receptions, 1219 yards and 12 touchdowns, Watkins was arrested in May of 2012 for possession of marijuana. Suspended for the first two games of his sophomore season, Watkins’ production took a dive as he finished the season with 57 receptions, 708 yards and three touchdowns. With the departure of former teammate DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL, Watkins entered his junior season as the primary receiver in the potent Clemson passing attack led by star QB Tajh Boyd. Possessing prototypical size (6-1, 205), Watkins is a former track champion outstanding stop/start explosiveness and the speed to separate from second level defenders. His ability to get behind coverage and attack the ball in the air makes him a big play threat. Though he’s not the most refined route runner, his ability to separate from defenders and create with the ball in his hands makes him effective on screens and smoke routes. It’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board when the Lions are on the clock, but a CJ/Watkins duo would provide match-up nightmares for defensive coordinators.
Vic Beasley (#3), DE/OLB – Clemson
Vic Beasley wasn’t a household name coming into the season, but college football fans are becoming familiar with this rising star who leads the nation in sacks with nine. His excellent production in limited snaps last season (18 tackles, eight tackles for loss, a team-high eight sacks, eight quarterback pressures, two pass breakups, and one caused fumble) had him on the radar screen of NFL scouts. A former tight end and hoops star, Beasley possesses exceptional quickness off the snap, quick hands and fluid lateral movement to side step pass blocks and disrupt plays behind the LOS. Though he possesses good length (6-3) and long arms to prevent opposing linemen from getting inside his frame, it’s his ability to convert speed to power that is most surprising, considering his lack of ideal bulk for the position (228 lbs.). While his lack of size may limit him to being primarily a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 front, his athleticism provides him the versatility to be productive standing up in a 3-4, and teams are always looking for players who can get to the QB.
Bryan Stork (#52), C – Florida State
Returning to action after a incurring a concussion vs. Maryland, senior center Bryan Stork has the versatility teams are looking for, having also spent time at guard and tackle during his 32 career starts. A former high school tight end in a primarily run-based offense, Stork has quick enough feet to be adequate in pass protection, though he does show some stiffness in the hips and struggles to re-direct vs. counter moves. At 6-4, 311 lbs., Stork has decent size and is an effective positional run blocker, but doesn’t dominate the head-up defender. However, his experience, versatility and smarts will allow him to make a club as a valuable swing-man with the potential to start if he can continue to refine his technique.