The Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft Watch gives you college football players to watch who could be on the Detroit Lions’ radar this spring, with a particular focus on positions of need.
Now that we’ve profiled prospects in the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl (more; and more), it’s time to highlight a few additional players who caught my eye during the season as we head toward the combine. Today is the second installment of our focus on seniors who didn’t play in either college all star game.
Cedric Ogbuehi (#70), OT – Texas A&M
The Lions will be looking to improve the talent level on their offensive line, and Ogbuehi’s athleticism and versatility would be a welcome addition. Ogbuehi became the Aggies’ third different left tackle to be named first-team All-America by Walter Camp in the past three seasons, joining Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews.
A starter at guard his sophomore season, right tackle his junior season and left tackle his senior year, Ogbuehi has proven he can excel at every position along the offensive line. An excellent pass protector, Ogbuehi has the quick feet, fluidity and balance to slide and mirror speed rushers off the edge.
He also showcases excellent mobility as a second-level run blocker, though he will need to improve his lower-body strength to more effectively create movement versus the head-up defender in short yardage situations. A prospect with a lot of upside, the Lions may have to trade up to nab Ogbuehi on draft day.
Brock Hekking (#53), DE – Nevada
In 2013, Hekking established himself as one of the best defenders in the Mountain West Conference, finishing fourth in the conference with nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. His 2014 campaign was equally as successful, posting 56 tackles, nine and half tackles for loss, five sacks, and three QB hurries. His 21 total career sacks places him fifth overall in the MWC.
At 6-4, 255 lbs., Hekking is a bit light to be an every down end at the next level. What he lacks in size, however, he makes up for in effort and athleticism. Hekking’s quickness off the snap, agility, balance and high motor play will allow him to contribute as a situational pass rusher at the next level. He will most likely be a mid-rounder come draft weekend.
A.J. Cann (#50), OG – South Carolina
The 6-4, 311 lb. left guard for the Gamecocks has the look of long term starter in the NFL, and the Lions may be looking for an upgrade at the position after a subpar season by current starter Sims. Listed on numerous All-American lists and earned first team All-SEC honors in 2014, Cann is considered a leader for South Carolina, having been voted permanent captain since his junior year. A four-year starter with 51 career starts under his belt (second-most in S.C. history), Cann will enter the league with a lot of experience against NFL-caliber defensive line talent.
His on-field skills are impressive; quick out of his stance and into position, Cann is an outstanding run blocker both in-line and in space. It’s not easy to stand out when Corey Robinson, the 6-8, 344 lb. left tackle, is on the line next to you, but Cann managed to do just that this past season.
Mike Bennett (#53), 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. Bennett burst onto the scene in 2013, his first season as a full-time starter, finishing with 40 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles. Though on paper his 2014 was not as productive, Bennett’s relentless effort provides opportunities for his teammates to make plays.
At 6-2, 288 lbs., Bennett can get pushed around at times and will need to continue to add size and strength. However, his fluidity and speed allows him the range to make plays outside the tackle box. A team captain and scholar athlete, Bennett is instinctive, can consistently threaten gaps, and always fights hard to the whistle.