The Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft Watch List gives you college football players to watch each week who could be on the Detroit Lions’ radar next spring, with a particular focus on positions of need.
Mississippi State (#1) vs. Arkansas
7:15 pm EST – ESPN 2
Trey Flowers (#86), DE – Arkansas
Flowers considered entering the 2014 draft, but was discouraged with his projection and decided to stay for his senior year. The prolific defensive end was named second-team All-SEC last season with 44 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception, two pass breakups and five quarterback hurries. At 6-4. 270 lb., the Razorback edge rusher has prototypical size that teams covet at the next level.
Through eight games this season, he has tallied 39 tackles, seven and a half tackles for loss, two sacks, four passes breakups, three QB hurries, and one forced fumble. While Flowers lacks elite initial quickness, his size and strength allow him to be an effective push-pull lineman who can collapse the pocekt. Be on the lookout for him to be hunting Dak Prescott all game.
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Benardrick McKinney (#50), LB – Mississippi State
Benardrick McKinney is regarded as one of the top linebackers in the SEC. At 6-5, 249 lbs., McKinney was named one of the top 14 “Freakish” athletes in the nation by NFL.com this season. In seven games this season, he has 44 tackles, six tackles for loss, one fumble return, three sacks, two pass breakups, and two QB hurries.
His versatility will make the junior linebacker for the Bulldogs attractive to NFL teams. He is a former high school quarterback and has played both inside and outside at Mississippi State. While McKinney has alluded to entering the draft as a junior, he’s a player that might benefit from sticking around for his senior year to develop a little further. Regardless, his speed, athleticism and intensity allow him to make plays all over the field and he is one to keep an eye on.
Preston Smith (#91 ), DE – Mississippi State
The 6-6, 270 lb. senior defensive lineman for Mississippi State was relatively unheard of prior to this season, but has be come known for wreaking havoc in the backfield. Smith has always been solid against the run, however he’s flashed the athletic ability to even drop into coverage this season, which provides defensive coordinators with versatility. Through seven games this season, Smith has accumulated one touchdown, two interceptions, 25 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, two pass breakups, nine QB hurries, one forced fumble, and two blocked kicks.
Smith has already made history this season by being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three straight times, a feat never before accomplished and his best football may still be ahead of him.