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.
Florida State (#3) vs. Florida
3:30 PM EST – ESPN
While there might be higher-profile match ups this week, this ACC vs. SEC showdown between two in-state rivals provides the day’s best opportunity to view NFL caliber prospects. In a previous installment we highlighted cornerbacks Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams. Here are the prospects to keep an eye on in today’s match-up:
Mario Edwards, Jr. (#15), DE – Florida State
Though only a junior, this defensive end for the Seminoles is certainly on the radar screen of NFL scouts. As he keeps adding performances to his resume like he had against Virginia a few weeks ago (career high nine tackles, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack), the pressure will be there to leave school early for the draft. Despite missing a few games this season after a concussion and an MCL injury, Edwards has 38 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, four passes broken up, and two forced fumbles on the season.
Known for his ability as a run-stopper, Edwards uses his 6-3, 294 lb. frame to set the edge and exhibits strong hands to shed blocks on contact. As a pass-rusher, power is the name of the game for Edwards. While he lacks the burst and bend you’d like to see in a RDE, Edwards utilizes a powerful lower half to drive OL back and collapse the pocket as a bull-rusher. Perhaps most intriguing to an NFL defensive coordinator, however, is his versatility. Edwards will be at his best as an LDE in a 43 front with his hand in the dirt, though he’s played in a two-point stance, moved inside and has even blitzed from space.
Eddie Goldman (#90), DT – Florida State
A former five-star recruit, junior Eddie Goldman is a 6-4, 320 lb. defensive tackle who has been the centerpiece of the ‘Noles defensive line this season. He began his career as a reserve tackle, became a starting end last season, and ultimately moved back inside in 2014. Through ten games this season, Goldman has 31 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass defended and one forced fumble.
Often compared to former Florida State tackle, Timmy Jernigan (second round), Goldman utilizes his size well to two-gap and tie up double teams. In addition to being effective versus the run, Goldman exhibits the quickness, agility and balance to contribute as a pass-rusher. Most important to NFL teams, however, is his ability to make key plays when needed. In FSU’s 23-17 overtime victory over Clemson with the score tied 17-17, under two minutes remaining and Clemson poised to score from the FSU 18 yard line, Goldman forced a fumble that the Seminoles recovered. He then sacked Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson for a four-yard loss on the first possession of overtime and, two plays later, led the way in making the stop on a fourth-and-1 play that went for no gain and ultimately provided FSU with the opportunity to win the game.
Dante Fowler, Jr. (#6), DE – Florida
Already declared for the 2015 draft, stand-out defensive end, Dante Fowler, Jr. will be looking to give FSU’s offense a run for their money. Standing at 6-3, 260 lbs., Fowler leads the team with 11 tackles for loss and is second for the Gators with four and half sacks and 53 tackles this season. He has also posted an impressive 15 QB hurries, two forced fumbles, and a pass defended to boot.
Like Edwards, Fowler is versatile and often asked to switch between the right and left side, defensive tackle, and has even lined up at outside linebacker. A natural bender, Fowler utilizes leverage and strength to consistently set the edge and keep contain. While he lacks the burst and bend you like to see from a RDE prospect, he has good initial quickness for his size and utilizes violent hands and a powerful upper body to pressure the QB. Fowler’s excellent football character, high motor and ability to contribute in a variety of ways along the defensive line will make him a highly sought after player at the next level.
Trenton Brown (#74), OG – Florida
A 2013 transfer from Georgia Military College, the massively imposing offensive lineman for the Gators is one to keep an eye on. At 6-8, 360 lbs., and a former high school basketball player, Brown is surprisingly light on his feet for a big guy. Even more notable to the coaching staff was his commitment to re-shaping his body once he arrived in Gainesville.
Brown stepped up last season after numerous injuries to the Gators’ o-line, finishing out the final five games starting at right tackle. With everyone healthy this year, Brown moved inside to right guard. Brown’s versatility is a plus, but it’s his sheer size that will get him looks at the next level, particularly for teams that run heavy doses of “Power-O.”