Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Writing this while watching a game featuring two wide receivers who would look mighty fine in the Honolulu Blue, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and USC’s Marqise Lee. Cooks is a potential second round pick, though at this point I would suspect he will be gone before the Lions come onto the clock there. Lee looks well recovered from his earlier knee injury, and he’s a first round talent without question.
There are two worth watching in one game. Multitasking, ladies and gents!
Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz vs. Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Our colleagues over at BuffaloBillsDraft broke down Fiedorowicz’s game against Michigan State, and if that description sounds familiar to you, it should. His game is very similar to how the Lions use Brandon Pettigrew, a tall short-range target with a (mostly) strong in-line blocking presence. With Pettigrew poised for free agency and the Lions not likely to have the cap room to pay him what he wants, tabbing a replacement in the 3rd or 4th round makes a lot of sense. That’s Fiedorowicz’s likely draft range. Watch him chip and release, and also how quickly he secures catches.
He will see some action matched up against Borland. The inside backer reminds me of a poor man’s Chris Speilman. Coming from me, that’s a huge compliment; Chris Speilman is my favorite football player of all time.
Borland exudes that same sort of intensity, high football IQ, and balanced pop behind his pads. He’s probably faster in a straight line than #54 was, though I don’t think he’s as explosive from a stop. The biggest issue is his height, and at just 5’11” it’s a legit question. He doesn’t play small at all, but when covering guys like Martellus Bennett or Kyle Rudolph, Borland will cede at least 6 inches and 15-25 pounds.
The Lions need to find a backup for Stephen Tulloch, who is about the same size but moves laterally a little better. Borland should be a fourth or fifth round pick, and that’s the range where the Lions should be looking for another linebacker.
What I want to see from Borland in this game is his ability to stack and shed, as well as how fluidly and instinctively he moves in coverage. You can follow along on ABC/ESPN2 at noon.
Florida State safety Terrence Brooks vs. Miami FL
Fellow safety LaMarcus Joyner gets the bulk of the attention, and he’s worth watching as well. But it’s hard to see this Lions regime drafting a 5’8” safety like Joyner even though he’s an innate playmaker.
Brooks is the Ryan Clark to Joyner’s Polamalu, to compare them to Steelers. While he’s a little smaller than ideal at a listed 5’11” and 200 pounds, Brooks is a good leaper and has the closing speed desired. He plays well off the playmaker, an underrated attribute that is important for a team with Louis Delmas.
The Lions are in good shape with Glover Quin and Delmas as the starters, but a reliable third safety with some legit cover skills makes some sense in the middle rounds. Brooks has several dropped INTs this year, so pay attention to his hands as well as his ability to close on the football in the air. Stephen Morris is a legit 3rd round pick at quarterback for Miami, so this is a nice challenge for Brooks.
This is the prime time game on ABC, a heavyweight battle between two unbeaten with a history of not liking one another. If you love football, you cannot miss this game. I happen to think the Noles are going to roll, but the Canes could surprise if Morris gets on fire as he does from time to time.
Notre Dame WR T.J. Jones vs. Navy
Many Lions fans believe the team will take multiple wideouts in the upcoming draft. If they do, they could do a lot worse than tabbing Jones in the 6th or 7th round.
I wasn’t all that high on the senior wideout until I saw him in person against Oklahoma. As you can tell from my game notes, I came away impressed. I’m a sucker for wideouts with quick, crisp feet and good body control. Jones has both. He’s not a blazer up the sideline, but he knows how to change speeds and set up moves. He can make things happen after the catch too.
NBC has this 3:30 ET game, and you’ll get Mike Mayock gushing favorable draft dish on every Irish player until you can take no more. I’m a big Chris Watt fan too, so pay attention to the Irish left guard as well.
Florida center Jonotthan Harrison vs. Georgia
Aside from destroying the spell checker, Harrison often makes life quite difficult for opposing defensive tackles. The senior brings impressive size at 6’3” and a pretty buff 310 pounds, and he is comfortable with using his size and natural strength.
Two reasons for Lions fans to like Harrison: he’s very smart and he’s got that leadership presence which so many teams like to have at center. If you’ve ever heard him do an interview, you know what I’m talking about; he’s eloquent, self-aware, and clearly has interests outside football.
His biggest detriments are akin to what Lions fans see with Dom Raiola. He will lose composure at times, witness his ejection for striking a ref earlier this year. Also, he can struggle to move bulkier nose tackles. He’s facing one of those immovable object-types in Garrison Smith.
You can watch these two fading powers on CBS at 3:30 in a game with a built-in drinking game. It’s the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party, and every time the announcing crew mentions that, have yourself a cocktail as well. My personal choice is a greyhound or a Captain Morgan and Dr. Pepper 10. Cheers!