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Detroit Lions 2024 draft watch: 8 players to watch, including WR Rome Odunze

This Saturday’s Detroit Lions 2024 NFL draft watch examines eight players to watch.

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NCAA Football: Washington at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s Detroit Lions draft watch focuses on four games, including the No. 2 team in the country and three matchups between ranked teams.

Here are this week’s games:

  • Indiana at Michigan (2) at 12:00 p.m. ET on FOX
  • Oregon (8) at Washington (7) at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • USC (10) at Notre Dame (21) at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Miami (25) at North Carolina (12) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Let’s get a closer look at this week’s players that Lions fans should be watching.

Indiana at Michigan (2)

Mike Sainristil, CB/NB, Michigan (Senior)

5-foot-10, 182 pounds

An excerpt from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, via SB Nation’s Maize N Brew:

“He’s got the skill-set for it. He’s got the skill-set for receiver, he’s got the skill-set for corner, for nickel corner. Skill-set reminds me a lot of Jimmie Ward (Harbaugh drafted Ward in the first round of his final year in with the 49ers) and what he had in college. Yeah, skill-set.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

“Sainristil’s path to success is drenched in the details that turn sleepers into superstars,” is what I opened my evaluation of Sainristil with last draft season and I still believe it to be true. He’s going to fly under the radar because of his size and projected nickel role, but one team is going to get a steal when they draft him at value and he ends up outperforming his draft position.

A two-time captain, Sainristil has shown the ability to find success on the outside at corner, while still maintaining his slot range. Speed, quickness, with a nose for the ball, and proper technique all translate to the next level.

Oregon (8) at Washington (7)

Rome Odunze, WR, Washington (Junior)

6-foot-3, 217 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s top-50 preseason prospects, from Chris Burke($):

“Between Odunze’s size and downfield ability, you don’t have to squint to see why he’ll be on NFL boards. He has an advanced knack for body control and tracking the ball. Playing with the dual-threat (Michael) Penix also allowed Odunze to show off his feel for finding holes in the defense on extended plays.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

It’s a good year to need a WR-X receiver and Odunze will likely find himself in the top-five receiver group come draft time. Marvin Harrison (Ohio State) and Keon Coleman (Florida State) are going to likely be at the top of the WR-X group, but several teams could view Odunze as the next best option.

Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon (Junior)

6-foot-2, 187 pounds

An excerpt from Anthon Sports’ Kyle Crabbs’ profile of Franklin:

“Franklin has the vertical separation ability, size and chemistry with his quarterback to afford a strong foundation for his NFL body of work. I love how he’s on the same page working to space with his quarterback, illustrating a football IQ that you’d have to think will only further be amplified as he matures. The maturation of his body and ability to fill out his frame will ultimately decide how lofty Franklin’s ceiling will be as an NFL perimeter player.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Probably more of a WR-Z than an X—more weight and physicality could improve his positional range—but his ability to stretch the field with speed would be a nice fit with the Lions. If the Lions opt to continue to add speed to the outside, instead of opting to add a traditional WR-X—because speed on the outside makes more room over the middle for their slot weapons—Franklin is a name to keep an eye on.

Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington (Redshirt Junior)

6-foot-4, 274 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s top-50 preseason prospects, from Chris Burke($):

“He’s an impressive speed-to-power rusher, but he might appeal to NFL coaches as much for his willingness — and ability — to set an edge. As his overall ranking here indicates, Trice is right on the brink of ascending into the Round 1 conversation as a top 2024 edge.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

It won’t take long to see how Trice would fit into the Lions scheme and easily pair with their adaptive front. Edge-setting is huge for this regime, and the constant rotation of the edge role opposite Aidan Hutchinson would fit Trice like a glove.

USC (10) at Notre Dame (21)

Calen Bullock, S, USC (Junior)

6-foot-2, 195 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic Dane Brugler’s pre-season top safeties ($):

“A long, fluid athlete, Bullock is a light-footed mover who can easily transition with routes, regardless of whether he’s asked to work top-down or split-field. With his easy acceleration, he covers a lot of ground against the run and pass and reacts well from a deep perch.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

With Kerby Joseph on the roster, it’s easy to think the Lions may not be interested in safeties high in the draft. But the safety position plays a massive role for them, and the two safety spots are expected to be universal. Meaning, the split-zone scheme allows them to have multiple rangy safeties who can fly all over the field from single-high or two-deep roles.

Audric Estime, RB, Notre Dame (Junior)

6-foot-0, 227 pounds

An excerpt from Anthon Sports’ Kyle Crabbs’ profile of Estime:

“Estime is a fun back who offers the added yardage element to be a plus contributor to an NFL franchise. He’s got an open-field burst to go with good vision and a heavy set of pads. I’m not certain he’s athletically versatile enough to warrant a featured role, but he projects as a favorable part of an NFL rotation, not dissimilar to a Samaje Perine.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

The Lions invested heavily in running backs this past offseason, but their rotation will always call for depth at the position, and adding a back on Day 3 is not out of the question. The key will be to find a back who has a balance to their game so that they can complement the starters in front of them. Estime tends to be more of a power back, but he has solid contact balance and great vision.

Miami (25) at North Carolina (12)

Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami (Junior)

6-foot-0, 205 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic Dane Brugler’s pre-season top safeties ($):

“NFL teams covet ball-hawking safeties with versatility and range, which is why Kinchens commands this early No. 1 (safety) spot. He operates really well as a centerfield-type who can cover both sidelines and track the ball in flight. Aside from his physical gifts, Kinchens anticipates well and triggers without wasting steps.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Another incredibly rangy safety who has the potential to be a plug-and-play starter. The safety position has been devalued of late in the NFL but a team may be able to justify taking Kinchens in the top 32 picks.

Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina (Redshirt Junior)

6-foot-2 1/2, 200 pounds

An excerpt from Draft Network’s Damian Parson’s Walker’s transfer to UNC reinstated:

“Walker is going to bring height, weight, and speed to the Tar Heels’ passing attack. With his frame and body control, Walker should assert himself as Maye’s WR1 to close out the 2023 season. He possesses the skill set to work in the quick passing game as a run-after-the-catch threat. Walker is surprisingly elusive to force missed tackles in tight/condensed spaces.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Could the Lions dip back into the North Carolina wide receiver corps on Day 3 for the second year in a row? Walker is still flying a bit under the radar now, but with Drake Maye (a potential top pick in this year’s draft class) throwing him the ball, it’s only a matter of time before people start paying more attention.

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