Detroit Lions 2014 NFL Draft Watch List: Week 14


September 22, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw (14) scrambles for a big gain as Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) gives chase in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-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.

Texas A&M (#19) vs. Missouri (#5)

7:45 p.m. (EST) – ESPN

In week three, we highlighted Texas A&M OL Jake Matthews (#75). In this week’s primetime matchup, here are three Missouri prospects to keep an eye on:

Michael Sam (#52), DE – Missouri

One of my favorite prospects this season; Sam has enjoyed a breakout year with 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, placing him among the top ten in college football for both categories. With only ten career starts coming into the year, Sam’s play has earned him recognition as a finalist for the Lombardi, Nagurski and Hendricks awards. At 6-2, 255 lbs., Sam lacks prototypical length and bulk for the position, but is able to overcome his lack of ideal measureables with a quick first step and high effort play. Even more impressive, given his lack of size, is his productivity versus the run, where he showcases the upper body strength and arm length to keep opposing linemen from getting inside his frame. Though he may be smallish and not test well at the combine, you can’t overlook his productivity in a big time conference. Sam is likely the kind of prospect who will end up overplaying his draft value at the next level.

Kony Ealy (#47), DE – Missouri

Should he decide to leave school early for the draft, Sam’s counterpart at defensive end, Kony Ealy, will likely be drafted much higher due to his prototypical size (6-5, 275 lbs.). A former All-State basketball player in high school, Ealy exhibits outstanding athleticism for a big man, with surprising quickness off the snap and an explosive close to finish on the QB. His size allows him to set the edge versus the run and he generally gives good effort in backside pursuit, though you would expect a prospect with his measurebles to play a bit more physical. While he probably would benefit from staying in school for another year to improve his hand technique, Ealy’s rare combination of size and speed provides him the versatility to play multiple positions along the line.

L’Damian Washington (#2), WR – Missouri

With a reported 4.39 forty-yard dash and 6-3, 195 lb. frame, Washington fits the trending mold of size/speed receivers coming into the league. Washington is versatile, having started at both the X and Z receiver spot and has explosive, big-play ability as evidenced by his 19.3 yards per reception average and nine touchdowns. Because he hasn’t put up gaudy stats for the duration of his college career, Washington will likely be a later day developmental prospect.