Michigan State Spartans
2020 NFL Draft Prospects
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Joe Bachie, ILB
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who earned First Team All-Big Ten honors and made 102 tackles (8.5 for loss) with three forced fumbles as a junior in 2018. Named Third Team All-Big Ten and made 100 tackles (8.5 for loss) with 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles as a sophomore. Missed the final five games of the 2019 season after he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and was still named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.
Positives: Tough, instinctive linebacker who is constantly around the action and makes positive plays. Plays with tremendous awareness, effectively quarterbacks the defense, and gets his teammates into proper position. Leads by example, fires through the gaps of the offensive line to make plays in the backfield. and takes proper angles to the action. Efficient, flows well laterally and wraps up tackling. Remains disciplined with assignments, does not bite on ball fakes and shows a tremendous head for the ball. Quickly closes to the action and effectively makes plays in space.
Negatives: Despite running well at the combine, does not display the flat-out pursuit speed and athleticism on the field. Struggles to get off blocks and will get caught up in the trash.
Analysis: Bachie is an underrated and overlooked linebacker who will be underdrafted in April. He presents himself as a three-down defender who stands out against the run and can also play in zone coverage on passing downs. Bachie also comes with a special-teams mentality. He’ll be great value on day three of the draft and can develop into a starter at the next level.
David Dowell, S
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors and made 59 tackles with two interceptions as a junior in 2018. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 52 tackles with five INTs and four pass breakups as a sophomore. Made 55 tackles in 2019.
Positives: Tough, instinctive safety who is best playing downhill. Quickly picks up coverage assignments, possesses solid ball skills and displays the ability to stay on the receiver’s hip out of breaks. Fires up the field to defend the run, displays a closing burst of speed both laterally and in a straight line and shows decent range. Tracks the pass in the air and displays solid hands for the interception. Effective when the action is in front of him. Plays with toughness and physicality.
Negatives: Blows coverage assignments on occasion. Slow out of his transition. Does not always take proper angles. Inefficient and over-pursues plays.
Analysis: Dowell is an underrated safety prospect who did not meet the expectations I placed upon him as a senior in 2019. Regardless, he possesses decent size and football intellect, and though he’s athletically limited, Dowell offers potential as a zone or strong safety who comes with a special-teams mentality.
Tyler Higby, G
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who made four starts at left tackle and missed the last six games of his senior season due to injury. Started eight games at left guard, three at left tackle and two at center as a junior in 2018. Combined to make 13 starts at left guard during his first two seasons at Michigan State.
Positives: Athletic offensive line prospect who sets with a wide base, works to bend his knees and effectively uses his hands. Strong at the point of attack, makes good use of angles in pass protection, and anchors well. Explosive, quick and moves well about the field. Works to stays square and seals defenders from the action.
Negatives: Lacks footwork and the ability to slide off the edge. Must improve his balance. Stiff and seems to play back on his heels. Has an unpolished game.
Analysis: Higby is a nice-sized college tackle whose game never really improved at Michigan State. He possesses big upside, but Higbee needs a lot of work to complete his game.
Brian Lewerke, QB
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who threw a career-high 20 touchdown passes and a career-low seven interceptions as a sophomore in 2017. Set career bests with a 59.6 completion percentage and 3,079 passing yards in 2019 and threw 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Missed two games and played several others with an injured throwing shoulder in 2018.
Positives: Nice-sized passer who is patient in the pocket, displays timing on throws, and does not make receivers wait for the ball. Throws with a fluid over-the-top delivery, distributes the ball to all his targets and goes to the safe underneath outlet when nothing else is available. Effectively sets up screen passes and flashes the ability to deliver beautiful throws down the field.
Negatives: Inconsistent. Won’t pick up yardage with his legs. Sprays throws all over the place and misses wide-open receivers. Makes targets consistently adjust to the errant pass to come away with the reception. Inability to consistently deliver accurate throws leads to a loss of opportunity for yards after the catch.
Analysis: Lewerke is a nice-sized passer with enough arm strength to play at the next level, but he needs a lot of work. While he possesses the physical skills to play in the NFL, his accuracy and consistency must significantly improve to have any chance to make an impact.
Mike Panasiuk, DT
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in all three of those seasons. Made 36 tackles (nine for loss) with two sacks as a senior in 2019. Started the final three games of his true freshman season.
Positives: Explosive, hard-working defensive tackle who plays with terrific pad level, fires off the snap with an explosive first step, and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Consistently gets leverage on opponents, keeps his feet moving and requires double teams from opponents to keep him out of the backfield.
Negatives: First-step lineman who gets controlled at the point by a single blocker. Struggles to get off blocks once engaged at the point. More of a gap occupier than play-maker. Minimal upside.
Analysis: Panasiuk is a hard-charging defensive tackle who gets the most from his ability, but he lacks size and upside. He offers possibilities as a three-technique tackle or even a one-gap end in a 3-4 alignment, and his approach to the game and nonstop motor could help him catch on as an eighth offensive lineman.
Josiah Scott, CB
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as a true freshman in 2017 and as a junior in 2019. Made 55 tackles with three interceptions and seven pass breakups in 2019. Made 30 tackles with two interceptions and 10 pass breakups in 2017. Missed the first eight games of the 2018 season due to a preseason knee injury.
Positives: Small, feisty cornerback with solid ball skills. Quickly flips his hips in transition, mixes it up with receivers throughout the route and displays the ability to burst to the ball out of his plant. Does not bite on receivers’ moves and displays solid speed to run with opponents downfield and the ability to quickly close to the action. Battles to defend the throw and fires up the field against screen passes and running plays. Shows ability in man coverage as well as when he faces the action.
Negatives: Occasionally bites on receivers’ moves, which gets him into trouble. Must do a better job to get his head back around to locate the pass in the air. Did not play as well in 2019 as many thought possible.
Analysis: While Scott surprised many by entering the draft, he’s still a solid cover corner who can be used in zone or backed off the line of scrimmage. He has size limitations, but he has enough ability to make an NFL roster as a dime back.
Darrell Stewart Jr, WR
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who caught 49 passes for 697 yards and four touchdowns and missed four games due to a leg injury as a senior in 2019. Led the Big Ten in receiving at the time of his injury. Missed two games due to an ankle injury in 2018. Started four games and made 50 receptions for 501 yards and two TDs as a sophomore.
Positives: Nice-sized receiver with a consistent game. Smoothly releases off the line of scrimmage, effectively uses his hands to separate from defenders and extends to snatch the ball away from his frame. Tracks the ball in the air, gets vertical, and displays soft and strong hands. Nicely adjusts to the errant throw, exposes himself to the big hit in order to come away with the reception and always works to make himself an available target. Shows focus and concentration, keeps the play in bounds and works to pick up yardage after the catch. Impacts the game as a punt returner.
Negatives: One-speed receiver who lacks deep burst. Struggled with injuries as a senior.
Analysis: Stewart has speed and athletic limitations, but he possesses an underrated game as a receiver and punt returner. Unlikely to be selected at any point during the seven rounds of the draft, he could be a surprise free-agent signing who makes an NFL roster as a fifth receiver and return specialist.
Cody White, WR
Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and caught 66 passes for 922 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 2019. Made 42 receptions for 555 yards and two TDs and missed four games with a broken hand as a sophomore.
Positives: Productive pass catcher with an NFL body. Solid route runner who quickly gets into breaks and stays low on exit, displays outstanding focus and concentration and makes the difficult catch in stride. Uses his hands to separate from opponents and displays good awareness and great quickness. Battles to come away with the reception and nicely reaches back and adjusts to grab the errant throw.
Negatives: Unnecessarily lets the ball inside him and tries to secure the pass against his frame. Struggles to get off jams at the line of scrimmage. Physically beaten out by opponents. Not much of a blocker.
Analysis: White displayed consistent improvement at Michigan State and was more productive as his college career progressed. He possesses the size to play at the next level, but he must improve the details of his position and become more physical to make an NFL roster.
Kenny Willekes, DE
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and led the conference with 20.5 tackles for loss as a junior in 2018. Earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors and made 78 tackles (16 for loss) with 10.5 sacks in 2019. Named Third Team All-Big Ten and made 73 tackles (14.5 for loss) with seven sacks as a sophomore.
Positives: Intense, hard-charging defensive end who gets the most from his ability. Fires off the snap with an explosive first step, shows the ability to bend off the edge and possesses a closing burst of speed. Easily changes direction, moves well laterally and plays with consistent leverage. Instinctive and remains disciplined with assignments but keeps coming. Displays a variety of moves to get off blocks. Had a terrific week of practices at the Senior Bowl.
Negatives: Really not a true edge rusher. Possesses more of a short burst of speed and won’t run ball carriers down in pursuit. Lacks size. Easily controlled by blocks or outpositioned from the action.
Analysis: Willekes was a terrific college lineman who played through injury and overachieved during much of his Michigan State career. He lacks great upside, but some coach will fall in love with him. Willekes could be productive as a situational pass rusher and special-teams player on Sundays.
Raequan Williams, DT
Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final two seasons at Michigan State. Posted a career-high five sacks as a senior in 2019 and added career bests of 53 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss in 2018. Named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten and made 31 tackles (six for loss) with 2.5 sacks as a sophomore.
Positives: Athletic defensive line prospect with big upside but an inconsistent game. Fluid, plays with leverage, and easily moves about the field. Rarely off his feet, can be an overpowering force and runs over blocks to collapse the pocket and penetrate the line of scrimmage. Possesses excellent size but also shows flexibility, agility, and excellent athleticism. Covers a good amount of area on the field and shows the ability to get off the line of scrimmage and make plays in pursuit.
Negatives: Must use his hands better. Inconsistent in all areas of his game. Looks like a world-beater on one down but disappears for long stretches.
Analysis: Williams is an athletic big man with a huge upside and a very inconsistent game. He displayed flashes of brilliance throughout his Michigan State career and could be a force at the next level if he pulls it all together.
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