Justin Rogers and John Niyo discuss the Lions’ three-game losing streak and the team’s chances of snapping it at home against Carolina.
Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — Each Saturday during the college football season, we’ll highlight five prospects with locally-televised matchups who could be a fit for the Detroit Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft, based on projected needs.
Every week, the list will aim to highlight early-, mid- and late-round prospects. This will give you a chance to watch the players performing live, instead of playing catch-up in the weeks before the draft.
Te’von Coney, LB, Notre Dame (jersey No. 4)
No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m., NBC
Christian Jones has been decent for the Lions, but with a cap hit nearing $4 million in 2019, is that a fair price for decent? It’s a coin toss, which requires finding an equal or greater piece in the draft.
Coney isn’t a big-time playmaker, tallying only a handful of sacks and turnovers, but he’s always around the ball, racking up big tackle numbers. He had 116 stops last year and is on pace for a similar amount in 2018, with 87 through 10 games.
He’s not particularly tall, listed at 6-foot-1, but he carries 240 pounds on the frame with long limbs and good speed, boosting confidence he can handle both man and zone coverage responsibilities.
Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College (No. 89)
No. 20 Boston College vs. Florida State, 3:30, ESPN2
Many of the pass-catching tight ends coming out of college don’t have the size and strength to handle blocking assignments in the NFL, but Sweeney meets the demands with a 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame.
His blocking potential isn’t hypothetical. He’s a proven commodity in that department, while sprinkling in some consistent ability as a receiving option. Sweeney led Boston College with 36 catches for 512 yards last season. He has 26 grabs this year.
Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State (No. 2)
Michigan State vs. Nebraska, noon, FOX
Layne could go back to school for another year, but the former wide receiver recruit is picking up some buzz recently, checking in as the No. 10 draft-eligible cornerback on Mel Kiper’s most recent rankings.
Layne has size in spades. He might not be all of the 6-foot-3 he’s listed at, but he’s taller and longer than most of the options at the position. He’s also taken his ball skills to another level this year, breaking up 12 passes.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State (No. 16)
Arizona vs. No. 8 Washington State, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Minshew is the first quarterback we’ve put on the list this year, but we can’t rule out the possibility the Lions will use a mid- or late-round pick on an option to develop behind Stafford.
Minshew, a transfer from East Carolina, has thrived playing in Mike Leach’s spread attack. The strong-armed QB is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for the red-hot Cougars.
Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech (No. 45)
Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Mississippi, 3:30 p.m, Stadium TV
OK, let’s get this out of the way, Stadium TV is an internet broadcasting company, but it appears this game is free to watch and I didn’t want to go the full year without highlighting Ferguson.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has been tough for opponents to handle off the edge this season. He’s up to 12.5 sacks with a flurry of 6.5 the past four games, including two against Mississippi State.
Ferguson has long arms and is good with his hands, making him a good fit for coach Matt Patricia’s scheme.