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Detroit Lions 2024 draft watch: 7 players to watch, including Michigan’s Kris Jenkins Jr.

This Saturday’s Detroit Lions draft watch examines seven players to watch.

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Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

This week’s Detroit Lions draft watch is heavy at the defensive tackle position. So far in this year’s article series I have profiled three defensive tackles, including Illinois Jer’Zhan Newton in Week 1, then in Week 2, I profiled Miami’s Leonard Taylor and Texas A&M’s McKinley Jackson.

In this week’s installment, I’ll have another five defensive tackles to put on your observations list, as well as a skill position matchup.

  • LSU (14) at Mississippi State at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • South Carolina at Georgia (1) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
  • Bowling Green at Michigan (2) at 7:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network

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

LSU (14) at Mississippi State

Defensive tackle could easily be near the top of the Lions' wish list this offseason and this game features three interior disruptors who may not be getting a ton of attention right now—two because of significant injuries in 2022 and another who is a tweener option.

Maason Smith, DT, LSU (Redshirt Sophomore)

6-foot-5, 300 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dan Brugler’s DT scouting preview ($):

“You don’t have to squint to understand why Smith was a five-star recruit and an immediate part of LSU’s defensive line rotation as a true freshman. A long, broad-framed athlete, he bursts out of his stance with the motor and speed to chase down plays. His hands are physical and deliberate, which helps him create movement and separate from blockers.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

If the Lions see 2022 third-round pick Brodric Martin as the team's future nose tackle, they may be looking for another pass rusher to complement Alim McNeill, and Smith fits the bill with his length, power, and quickness.

Mekhi Wingo, DL, LSU (Junior)

6-foot-1, 295 pounds

An excerpt from PFF’s Max Chadwick’s 10 DTs to Know article:

“After an impressive freshman season at Missouri, Wingo transferred to LSU this past season. He practically never came off the field for the Tigers, as the sophomore’s 821 snaps were 30-plus more than any other interior defensive lineman in college football. His 84.3 run-defense grade ranked third among SEC interior defensive linemen, while his four sacks were tied for the most.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Wingo would likely fit with the team in the same vane as John Cominsky/Josh Paschal, except for the fact that he is likely an interior player first, who can kick outside in “big” sets. Wingo would be more of a situational pass rusher early in his career, but would also fill a trait missing from the current defensive line.

Jaden Crumedy, DL, Mississippi State (Senior)

6-foot-5, 311 pounds

An excerpt from The Clarion Ledger’s Stefan Krajisnik’s preview of MSU’s draft prospects:

“Coming off an injury, Crumedy played in the final five games of the 2022 season and impressed. He recorded 15 tackles (five for loss) and two sacks. He played a key part, alongside Young, in slowing down a potent Ole Miss running game in an Egg Bowl win. If his jump in 2022 is telling of what 2023 could bring, he’ll catch the attention of NFL executives.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

More of a power-based depth option than the LSU defensive tackles, Crumedy is likely a guy the Lions could find on day three of the draft. With length, power, and positional versatility, he could find a role in the NFL backing up multiple spots.

South Carolina at Georgia (1)

Despite being ranked No. 1 and in the SEC, Georgia’s schedule isn’t exactly daunting—they only have two top-25 teams on the docket, and those games are in late November. So, let’s take this opportunity to not only look at a top defensive tackle prospect but also a skill position matchup.

Nazir Stackhouse, NT, Georgia

6-foot-3, 327 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Top 50, profile from Chris Burke ($):

“A four-star recruit in Georgia, Stackhouse stayed close to home and committed to the Bulldogs. It took him until last season to crack the starting lineup, though — current Philadelphia Eagle Jordan Davis had to turn pro first and vacate a job for Stackhouse.

“Year 1 was a success. Stackhouse started every game for the national champs and recorded 33 tackles (including three tackles for loss). His draft ceiling might be limited by a likely NFL role as a two-down, run-stuffing presence, but Stackhouse has the get-off and bull rush to take a significant step forward in getting after the QB. Any increase in production there would boost his draft stock.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

The Lions run defense has, so far, looked improved. But if they drift back into their old ways, Stackhouse is a terrific interior run defender—and as Fennell points out in his tweet—and may be the best in this draft class.

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia (Junior)

6-foot-0, 180 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Top 50, profile from Diante Lee ($):

“Lassiter is a physical defensive back, and he ideally projects to the NFL as a flexible corner who can align in the slot or outside. He amassed 38 tackles last year, with 5.5 combined tackles for loss and sacks. Lassiter is a good blitzer and run-support player, and he has the play strength needed to take on blocks and finish solo tackles. As a coverage defender, he’s adequate on the perimeter but projects better in zone coverage, where he could make plays with his feel and short-area quickness. If Lassiter proves he can handle the top WR assignments for Georgia’s defense this year, he will shoot up draft boards.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

The Lions future depth at outside corner is unsettled and any corner getting top-100 considerations will likely be high on their watch list radar. Lassiter is getting some solid hype early in the season and his stock is currently projecting from early second to late third, with an eye on his stock climbing with Georgia’s success.

Antwane Wells Jr., WR, South Carolina (Senior)

6-foot-0, 210 pounds

An excerpt from Pro Football Network’s Dalton Miller’s profile of Wells:

“Wells will receive the ‘possession WR’ tag throughout the process, but that’s somewhat unfair. His nickname isn’t “Juice” for no reason. Wells is explosive. He’s also a steller post-catch player displaying the kind of contact balance, creativity, and freedom of movement consistent with steller route runners.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

Strength and instincts to live on the outside in the NFL, Wells looks like a Day 3 option if the Lions are looking for competition/depth. If he can show well against Lassiter, his stock could rise quickly.

Bowling Green at Michigan (2)

Kris Jenkins Jr., DT, Michigan (Junior)

6-foot-3, 293 pounds

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Top 50, profile from Nick Baumgardner ($):

“The son of ex-NFL All-Pro DT Kris Jenkins Sr. (and nephew of Cullen Jenkins, who also played in the NFL), Kris Jenkins Jr. is a fast, explosive, long interior tackle with agility to cover a ton of ground inside. He plays with great power at the point of attack and has added weight and strength to his frame every year.

“Now 6-foot-2 1/2, 293 pounds, Jenkins plays with no bad weight. He turns 22 in October and is a true junior, but he has first-round potential.”

How he’d fit with the Lions:

When Jenkins first joined the Wolverines, he was a 240-pound defensive end, thought to be in the mold of the next potential Rashan Gary. But a change in scheme encouraged Jenkins to follow in his father's footsteps and he made a shift inside to defensive tackle.

Despite adding weight to live inside, Jenkins has noticeably improved his strength and quickness every year. That extra work in the weight room has afforded Jenkins unique physical abilities, yet he still possesses the instincts of an edge player. Jenkins understands angles and leverage, and has the athletic profile to beat offensive linemen to a spot, giving him the ability to disrupt.

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