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.
Ohio State (#13) vs. Michigan State (#7)
8:00 p.m. EST – ABC
Mike Bennett (#63), DT – Ohio State
There is little doubt that the Detroit Lions will look to add another defensive tackle in the 2015 draft, and Ohio State’s Mike Bennett is one of the best in the nation. A true senior, Bennett burst onto the scene in 2013, his first season as a full-time starter. With 44 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and seven and a half sacks, Bennett spent a good deal of time wreaking havoc in opponent’s backfields.
At 6-2, 288 lbs., Bennett can get pushed around at times and will need to continue to add size and strength. What he lacks in size, however, he makes up for in effort and intangibles. A team captain and scholar athlete, Bennett boasts a quick first step to threaten gaps and always fights hard to the whistle. MSU’s offensive line will have their hands full on Saturday, trying to contain number 63.
Shilique Calhoun (#89), DE – Michigan State
Not to be outdone, rival Michigan State boasts their own top caliber defensive lineman in junior Shilique Calhoun. In his second season as a starter, the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman has been a personal favorite of mine since his freshman year.
It was his play last season (seven and a half sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and a school-record three defensive touchdowns) that has warranted him being on every major national award watch list. At 6-5, 256, Calhoun lacks a power element to his game, but utilizes length, quickness, lateral agility and balance to routinely side-step pass blocks and pressure opponent’s quarterbacks. Should he decide to forgo his senior year, the gregarious Calhoun will likely be a late first round pick.
Doran Grant (#12), CB – Ohio State
Grant started all 14 games in 2013, earning all Big-Ten Conference honors ranking ninth in the conference in passes defended with 13, was the team’s fifth-leading tackler with 58 and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. At 5-10, 196, Grant has proven to be extremely durable, having played 39 games without injury.
Coaches will attest that Grant’s durability is not happenstance, however, as the stout cornerback is a former winner of strength coach Mickey Marotti’s Iron Buckeye Award, given to the player who best exemplifies unquestionable physical training and discipline. A heady player with adequate speed and ball skills, Grant has potential as a solid back-up at the next level.
Trae Waynes (#15), CB – Michigan State
In 2013, his first year in the starting lineup, Waynes earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media after finishing third on the team in interceptions (three) and pass break-ups (five) and seventh in tackles (50). Waynes is considered by many to be one of the best cornerbacks in the nation and his play on film backs it up. At 6-2, 182 lbs., Waynes utilizes a combination of length and instincts to break on the ball and create the turnover or tip the pass without creating a penalty.
Though he needs to continue to get stronger so he can press bigger receivers at the next level, Waynes is still a physical, willing tackler in run support – a trait still too rare among cornerbacks and one that makes him a complete player. The Thorpe Award Semifinalist will likely be a first round pick if he enters the draft next spring.