Sep 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee (9) avoids a diving tackle by Boston College Eagles defensive back Manuel Asprilla (21) on his way to a 80-yard second quarter touchdown at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-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.
Stanford (#5) vs. USC
8:00 p.m. (EST) – ABC
In week six, we highlighted Stanford prospects, ILB Shayne Skov (#11) and OLB/DE Trent Murphy (#93). In this week’s primetime matchup, here are three USC prospects to keep an eye on:
Marqise Lee (#9), WR – USC
The 2012 unanimous All-American, reigning Biletnikoff Award winner and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year owns or shares 22 USC records (five are Pac-12 records and one is an NCAA mark). He entered the season with 191 catches for 2,864 yards (15.0 avg.) and 25 TDs in his career, along with 40 kickoff returns for 1,141 yards (28.5 avg.). Though he missed time this season due to a knee injury, Lee returned to action in week nine vs. Oregon State to record five catches for 105 yards and a score. At 6-0, 195 lbs., Lee has decent size with outstanding fluidity, showcasing the ability to move into and out of his breaks without losing momentum and can accelerate to top speed quickly off his plant foot. He exhibits soft, reliable hands with the ability to adjust to off-target throws and pluck the ball away from his frame. A track athlete, Lee has the top-end speed to stretch the field vertically and the acceleration to separate from second-level defenders. Though he lacks the length and size of a Julio Jones or A.J. Green, Lee has the versatility to play in the slot or outside, and is a first round caliber prospect.
Dion Bailey (#18), OLB/S – USC
The versatile Bailey, who started at SLB in 2011 and 2012, moved to safety for the 2013 season. In his 24 career starts at SLB, Bailey recorded 161 tackles and six interceptions. At only 6-0, 210 lbs., Bailey would have to gain considerable bulk and strength to move back to linebacker at the next level. Assuming he could do so, Bailey has the potential to be a three-down WLB with safety-type coverage skills. He’s instinctive, reads his keys quickly to consistently get a jump on the play and is rarely out of position. A disciplined player, Bailey rarely bites on play action fakes or misdirection plays. In space, he’s smooth in his change of direction with decent closing burst and is a solid drag-down tackler. A player with Bailey’s versatility might be worth taking a shot on to see if he could stick as a solid back-up safety or develop into an effective run-and-chase backer with excellent coverage skills.
Devon Kennard (#42), LB/DE – USC
Kennard, who started at MLB his sophomore season and made the switch to defensive end for his junior year, returned to action after missing the 2012 season with a torn chest muscle. Coming into the 2013, Kennard had 135 career tackles, including 13 for loss and four sacks and has doubled that sack total through ten games this season to be ranked among the top 15 sack artists in college football. Though he possesses just average first-step quickness, Kennard plays with good leverage and enough power to set the edge vs. the run. He uses quick hands and nice lateral fluidity to create disruption in the backfield. While he doesn’t possess ideal size (6-2, 250 lbs.), his experience at MLB allows him to hold up when dropping underneath in coverage. Lacking elite athletic characteristics, it’s Kennard’s intensity and effort that allows him to be a productive player. His best fit is probably at OLB in a 34 front, however with added size he has potential as a rotational base end in a 4-3 scheme.