The focus of the college football weekend will be on Columbus when the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Michigan Wolverines in a battle for the Big 10 East title and a strong chance for a berth in the College Football Playoff. The two top-10 teams are there for good reason. There are several future NFL players sticking both rosters.
The Detroit Lions are expected to have a scouting presence in The Horseshoe. They will have a lot of players to watch.
Some of the notables who should intrigue Detroit in the epic rivalry game:
He’s questionable to play with a shoulder injury suffered on a cheap shot in the Indiana game last week, but if he plays, expect chaos. That’s what the hirsute Wolverine edge rusher does best.
I like Winovich as a 3-4 OLB and using his quickness and decent lateral agility more in space than with a hand in the dirt, as Michigan often deploys him. The lazy (though not inaccurate) comparison is to Clay Matthews, but in watching Winovich also lock down backside pursuit in the run game and attacking screens and quick slants to his periphery, he reminds me more of Whitney Mercilus of the Texans. That’s a piece the Lions can definitely use in the quietly improving defensive front.
The Lions’ need for twitch and speed at the CB position is obvious. Hill offers both, though in a lightweight (listed, perhaps generously, at 5-11 and 177) frame. Hill has been lights out in stopping receivers who try and beat him with quickness. He seems like a natural NFL slot corner and he’s shown some ball skills with 5 PDs and an INT. Focus on his tackling and ability to come off his man to help his teammates, something the Lions emphasize in their secondary scheme.
The converted quarterback has found a real home at tight end. Gentry is a legit 6-7 and gaining about 25 pounds from his QB days hasn’t dampened his quick release off the line. He’s able to use speed and quickness to beat linebackers outside the box, and he’s too big for safeties to handle in open space. Gentry has also shown he can quickly secure a catch on a throw away from his large frame.
Hill performs the top two functions of a wide receiver’s job description very well: he reliably gets open and he reliably catches the football. Hill does so with some flair in his shake-and-bake route running, too. At this point he appears undervalued by the draft community. A big game against Michigan’s stellar defense could send him rocketing into Day Two consideration for a WR-needy team like the Lions, who have little after Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.
Wolverines DE Rashan Gary is a great prospect, but he would fill the exact same role in Detroit’s defense already occupied BY Da’Shawn Hand, who is emphatically outplaying his draft status as a rookie. With all the other holes on the roster, tabbing Gary would be a tough sell even as dynamic as he’s proven to be.
Michigan QB Shea Patterson and Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. The Lions appear to have a major need for a developmental backup behind Matthew Stafford. Haskins is likely too rich for Bob Quinn’s blood (projected 1st rounder) but Patterson in the middle rounds of what looks like a bad QB class makes some sense. Both are widely speculated to declare for the draft.
Michigan LB Devin Bush
Ohio State DT Dre’Mont Jones, who reminds me of ex-Lion Nick Fairley
Michigan RB Karan Higdon
Ohio State WR Parris Campbell
Michigan CB Brandon Watson
Ohio State OT Isaiah Prince
Michigan DT Bryan Mone
Score prediction: Michigan wins by 13