Potential Day 1 Prospects
Brian Lewerke, QB, Jr.
Lewerke was good in his sophomore season. He completed 59% of his passes for 2793 yards to go along with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also rushed for an impressive 559 yards. Remember that NCAA sacks subtract from a player’s rushing totals. He is at least 6’2 and I’d like to see him add 5-10 lbs to his 210 lb frame. Lewerke puts some zip on his throws. It’s extremely likely that he’ll enjoy another productive season and declare early for the 2019 draft since many of the team’s key offensive starters will graduate this year. He is definitely in the 1st round conversation although I’d like to see show improved accuracy during the 2018 season.
Justin Layne, CB, Jr.
I’ll admit that I’m projecting another step forward here for Layne. He broke up 8 passes as a sophomore last year and added an interception. I’m excited for 2018 because Josiah Scott returns to the other starting cornerback position which means quarterbacks won’t be able to avoid either of them! I love Layne’s size and I believe he could really break out as a prospect this season. I realize I’m higher on him than most, but I’m not afraid to call him a Day 1 candidate.
Potential Day 2 Prospects
David Dowell, FS, Jr.
Dowell made a lot of plays in pass defense as a sophomore last season. Pro executives love safeties who are able to play center field and create turnovers. If he can repeat his 5-interception campaign from a year ago, he’ll be a Day 2 and, likely, round 2 lock.
Kenny Willekes, Edge, Jr.
Willekes is easy to root for because he is a former walk-on who emerged as the team’s most productive pass rusher as a sophomore. He tallied 7 sacks and he has prototypical height and size for a 4-3 defensive end. Athletic testing will be important for him at the combine if he can recapture the success he enjoyed in 2017 this season. I currently have him in the 3rd round.
Potential Day 3 Prospects
L.J. Scott, RB, Sr.
Scott wisely decided not to declare early for the 2018 draft. He has great size and a little bit of receiving ability, but he isn’t special. Think of Bo Scarbrough. He can do a number of things to contribute. He just doesn’t do anything really well. Scott is similar. I think he is worth drafting on Day 3. I don’t think he’ll receive much consideration before the 4th round.
Felton Davis, WR, Sr.
Davis will interest teams as a possession receiver and red-zone target. His lack of athleticism limits his ceiling to the 3rd round. A selection somewhere in the 4th or 5th rounds is more likely.
Raequan Williams, 3-4 DE, Jr.
Williams may interest 4-3 teams as a nose tackle. However, I think he is a perfect fit as a 3-4 5-technique. He is stout against the run even though he doesn’t make a lot of plays in the backfield and he doesn’t provide much in the way of pass rush ability. I think a base 3-4 GM will get a starter around the 4th round with Williams.
Matt Sokol, TE, Sr.
Sokol could interest GMs on Day 3 because he can block as well as catch passes. He’s a 6th round 3rd tight end on the roster unless he breaks out this season at Michigan State.
Khari Willis, SS-LB, Sr.
Willis plays a strong game against the run. I don’t know if he will hold up in coverage as an NFL safety. I wonder if 3-4 teams may view him as an inside linebacker. He could get the call around the 7th round. If not, he will latch on as a priority free agent.
David Beedle, OG, Sr.
Beedle good size and experience at left guard, left tackle, and right guard. His ticket to the NFL is his versatility as a backup. 7th round or priority free agent.
Cole Chewins, OT, Jr.
Chewins is the starter at left tackle for Michigan State. He will likely go undrafted because he weighs less than 290 lbs and he isn’t a great athlete. There’s a chance he could catch on with a team as a free agent if someone is convinced he could play the interior offensive line positions along with left tackle. I don’t think he can play on the strong side because of his slight frame.
Jake Hartbarger, P, Sr.
He won’t get drafted, but he could make it to a training camp. He needs to improve his 38.3 yard net.
Josiah Scott, CB, So.
Scott is small (5’10 173 lbs), but he enjoyed an outstanding true freshman season in 2017 that saw him break up 12 passes, including 2 interceptions. He isn’t eligible for the 2019 draft. It’s going to be fun to watch him play with the talent in this secondary during the season and I believe he could eventually be a Day 2 nickelback.
Cody White, WR, So.
White is 6’3 214 lbs and he compiled 35-490-4 as a true freshman last season. A step forward is expected in 2018 and he should be on the Day 2 map for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Antjuan Simmons, LB, So.
Simmons is yet another true freshman contributor from a year ago. He was a 4-star recruit and he displays terrific instincts to go along with his athleticism. There’s a good chance he could enjoy a breakout sophomore campaign in 2018 and he is on the Top-100 radar for 2020 or 2021.
Trenton Gillison, TE, Fr.
Gillison was one of the top 10 tight ends in his recruiting class. He is 6’4 230 lbs and shows potential as a blocker and receiver. He is also athletic enough to warrant a Day 2 choice if his college career goes according to plan.
Connor Heyward, RB-KR, So.
Heyward served as the kick returner during his true freshman season and will now have a much bigger role in the offense. I don’t want to make any outrageous claims about his future at the pro level, or if he even has one at this time. I just think he has a chance become a relevant prospect over the course of the next 2 years. If that happens, it’ll almost certainly be outside the top 75 picks.