#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State - 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC
DE Deforest Buckner, 6-foot-7, 290 pounds (#44, Senior)
Despite Arik Armstead grabbing all the national attention last year, Deforest Buckner was Oregon's top defensive lineman and it wasn't close. He's not the athlete that Armstead was, but he's a much better player. Like Armstead, Buckner is most likely going to be projected as a 5-tech defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. But when you see him line up as a nose tackle and drive the opposing center back seven yards, then you know this kid is special.
As exhibited above, Buckner is a strong athlete at the point of attack and is very difficult to erase from a play. He was double-teamed quite often, especially in last year's National Championship game, which allows his teammates to capitalize on the attention that he commands. He's basically what everyone wanted Armstead to be, except not as explosive of an athlete.
The more I see Buckner, the more I like the idea of him serving as the closed-end in the Lions' 4-3 under scheme. He's solid vs. the run and has the strength to cause disruption in the backfield as a pass rusher. I could also see them moving him inside to the 3-tech to play a little defensive tackle, much like how the Lions use Jason Jones.
Other players to watch:
CB Chris Seisay, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds (#12, RS Sophomore)
TE Evan Baylis, 6-foot-6, 250 pounds (#81, RS Junior)
OLB Christian French, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds (#96, RS Senior)
OT Tyler Johnstone, 6-foot-6, 295 pounds (#64, RS Senior)
OT Jack Conklin, 6-foot-6, 325 pounds (#74, Junior)
Jack Conklin is a bully in the run game and will absolutely knock you on your ass if you aren't careful. If you want to see Conklin at his best, watch him completely dominate Michigan's front-seven last year. If that brings back bad memories, then his tape against Ohio State was pretty solid too. Conklin does a fantastic job of finishing his blocks and driving defenders into the ground in the run game. I also love how he battles through the whistle and hands out the occasional playful shove after the whistle.
Conklin is no slouch in pass protection either, although that's definitely an area he can improve on. He plays with heavy hands and delivers a powerful punch, while moving fairly well for his size. In his games against Ohio State and Baylor, Conklin was beaten by the occasional speed rush, and had a much tougher time against Shawn Oakman than anyone else.
The big question is whether Conklin will play left or right tackle on Sundays. I tend to believe he can play either side and has a solid chance of being selected in the first round of next year's NFL Draft.
DE Shilique Calhoun, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds (#89, Senior)
Calhoun is a polarizing prospect that some believed could have been a first-round selection last year. The talent is there and you see flashes of dominance on tape, but it's the lack of consistency that leads me to believe he's closer to being a Day 3 pick than a Day 1 pick.
Calhoun's tape against Michigan last year does a good job of showing the ups and downs to his game. Here is an example of "Good Calhoun:"
He shows flashes of exploding off of the snap and does a spectacular job on this play of converting his speed into power, resulting in a sack.
Now, for "Bad Calhoun"...
This is one of the most frustrating plays you can watch when evaluating a defensive lineman. It's almost as if Calhoun forgets about the body part attached to his wrists. He makes no attempt at fighting with his hands and gets handled fairly easily in pass protection from a tight end. And to top it all off he flexes after the play like he just made the most impressive sack of his career.
If Calhoun can find some consistency and put it all together, he's going to be selected in the first round. If not, I can see him going anywhere from the 2nd-4th round range. He's explosive off the snap and his bread and butter is his quick inside swim move, but what I'm looking for from him is to see if he can improve on his hand usage and shedding blocks this year.
Other players to watch:
QB Connor Cook, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds (#18, Senior) - Probably not on Lions' radar
S RJ Williamson, 6-foot-0, 216 pounds (#26, Senior)
C Jack Allen, 6-foot-2, 296 pounds (#66, Senior)
DT Joel Heath, 6-foot-6, 293 pounds (#92, Senior)
OLB Darian Harris, 6-foot-0, 220 pounds (#45, Senior)
DT Lawrence Thomas, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds (#8, Senior)
#14 LSU at #25 Mississippi State - 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
LSU CB Tre'Davious White vs. Miss. St. WR De'Runnya Wilson
This matchup screams 2016 Detroit Lions Name Tournament. If Mayhew was smart he'd grab both of these kids for their first names alone. I really like White at CB and he's going to have his hands full against Wilson, who is this year's Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess (big-bodied hybrid TE/WR type).