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Detroit Lions 2024 draft watch: 8 players to watch, including PSU CB Kalen King

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

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NCAA Football: Penn State at Indiana Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s Detroit Lions draft watch focuses on five games, four of them feature two ranked opponents facing off, while the fifth is the state of Michigan’s biggest rivalry.

Here are this week’s games:

  • Penn State (7) at Ohio State (3) at 12:00 p.m. ET on FOX
  • Tennessee (17) at Alabama (11) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
  • Duke (16) at Florida State (4) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
  • Michigan (2) at Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Utah (18) at USC (18) at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX

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

Penn State (7) at Ohio State (3)

Kalen King, CB, Penn State (Junior)

5-foot-11, 190 pounds

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

“Whether as a run defender or in coverage, King plays with a palpable level of competitive energy. He is a fluid and physical athlete with the explosiveness to drive on plays or match routes. While he might not have ideal height, King plays tougher than most players his size and does so without making excessive contact in coverage (zero penalties in 2022).”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

King, a Cass Tech high school graduate, didn’t garner as much attention as he deserved in 2022, working opposite Joey Porter Jr., but he has shined under the spotlight this season. This matchup against Ohio State will be his biggest test and the one game scouts will scrutinize the most.

The Lions should be in the market for cornerbacks who can bring competition to the team, and with a solid game, King will have a chance to prove he deserves to be in the conversation.

Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State (Junior)

6-foot-1, 205 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s pre-season wide receiver rankings ($):

“A pass catcher’s ability to always make himself available to his quarterback is a valuable yet underrated skill. That’s where Egbuka shines because of his spatial awareness, short-area quickness and quick hands. To “be available” sounds simplistic, but most college receivers don’t have Egbuka’s technically sound approach or the coordination he shows to work himself open and be a catch-and-go threat.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

If the Lions decide to continue operating with speed/explosion over traditional receiver roles, then most of the top pass-catchers will be on the table for Detroit. Egbuka entered the season looking like a first-round lock, but the emergence of other receivers across the league (Keon Coleman, Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, etc) and working opposite elite prospect Marvin Harrision Jr., has quieted some of the hype around the “other Ohio State receiver.”

Adding another premier talent to the Lions’ wide receiver room would elevate an already explosive offense.

Denzel Burke, CB, Ohio State (Junior)

6-foot-0, 190 pounds

An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Damian Parson’s profile of Burke:

“In all, Denzel Burke has the making of a potential CB1 at the next level. If he can clean up some of the instinctive and technical issues, he can become a high-level man coverage cornerback.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

The Lions should be looking at all potential top-100 defensive backs and Burke looks like he will be amongst that group. While his potential to be CB1 is up for debate, his physical play would fit in with the Lions’ personality.

Tennessee (17) at Alabama (11)

Malachi Moore, DB, Alabama (Senior)

5-foot-11, 198 pounds

An excerpt from Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Moore:

“Malachi Moore has a versatile athletic skill set that allows him to play multiple positions within a secondary. At Alabama, Moore plays both safety positions as well as the nickel position. He’s able to make positive plays at all three positions as a run defender and in pass coverage.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Taking over Alabama’s STAR role (slot DB) after the departure of Brian Branch, Moore may seem redundant if the Lions were to add him to the roster. But the league heavily focuses on the pass and you can never have too many subpackage defenders. Moore also has more traditional safety experience, which would allow him to play alongside Branch (like in the clip above) as opposed to them only playing the same spot.

Duke (16) at Florida State (4)

Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State (Redshirt Junior)

6-foot-7, 237 pounds

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

“Wilson has a unique skill set that, if tailored to, could prove to be very challenging to defend in the NFL. Some teams may view him as a hybrid tight end/power slot player, where other systems that run more vertical concepts may be willing to let him play on the perimeter. I’m intrigued to see where his game grows from here; but it will need to grow in order for him to reach his ceiling as an athletic mismatch player.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

We previously featured Wilson’s teammate Keon Coleman, who is rightfully getting a ton of national attention, but Wilson deserves some love as well. At 6-foot-7, he is a player defenses have to account for and have a plan to defend. Wilson isn’t a game-changing talent like Coleman, but he’s a fancy weapon on an offense that could be looking for players that create matchup problems.

Michigan (2) at Michigan State

Rod Moore, Safety, Michigan (Redshirt Sophomore)

6-foot-0, 200 pounds

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

“When it comes to Moore’s read-and-react ability, I’m not sure what is more impressive: his awareness or his play speed. He is a light-footed athlete with easy weight transfer and explosive drive acceleration. But safeties must also trust their vision to play fast, and Moore anticipates the action quickly and confidently.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

While just a redshirt sophomore, Moore has been making plays from the moment he stepped on the field in Ann Arbor and is arguably a top-5 safety prospect in this class. Range and instincts are his best assets, and traits that this coaching staff loves, especially at the all-important safety position.

Utah (18) at USC (18)

Cole Bishop, Safety, Utah (Junior)

6-foot-2, 207 pounds

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

“This dude is RELENTLESS. I love the way he plays the game, the energy he exudes on the field and that carries over into an uncanny ability to make big plays on a weekly basis for the Utes. Bishop can play through the box, too. He feels space develop, and does well to redirect himself through the masses with fluidity. He’s an easy mover with a flexible lower half who can flip and transition or otherwise drop his foot in the ground and drive to attack the football.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Instinctual and physical, Bishop is still growing into the position but looks to have a high ceiling with solid range. He hasn’t shown the ability to live at single-high in Utah’s scheme, which could limit his evaluation a bit for the Lions split-zone scheme. Still, he looks like a potential top-100 player and potential starter.

Marshawn Lloyd, RB, USC (Junior)

5-foot-9, 215 pounds

An excerpt from Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy, via Brugler’s September risers ($):

“First thing that pops on tape with MarShawn is the athlete. He’s a lightfooted cutter with legit juice. He can avoid and create when it’s not blocked for him, and he’s got a strong base to bounce off first contact. And he’s a threat in the passing game.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Despite the Lions’ 2023 offseason investment at the running back position, and Craig Reynolds proving to be a reliable RB3, I still think the Lions will be in the market for a back on Day 3 of the draft that could challenge for a role. It won’t be as high a priority as some other positions for the Lions, but general manager Brad Holmes doesn’t pass on talent if he likes the fit.

Lloyd has done well to make a name for himself during his senior season at USC (after transferring from South Carolina), amassing 567 rushing yards (on 74 attempts, for a 7.7 average), including 319 after contact (4.31 average). His ability to play downhill, with quick feet, and terrific contact balance makes him a nice fit for what Lions coaches want in a back.

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