Tonight during the NFL Draft, cornerback Darqueze Dennard will, in all likelihood, become the first Spartan to be drafted in the first round since Charles Rogers went to the Lions with the 2nd pick in 2003. Dennard's draft stock has rose steadily over the past few months, due to a great senior season when he won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation's best defensive back, and a 4.51 40 time during the NFL combine which dismissed most concerns scouts had about his straight-line speed.
Barring the bizarre, Dennard will have his name called tonight. Here's where some writers think he'll go.
Dan Kadar, SB Nation: 24th, to the Cincinnati Bengals
Matthew Fairburn, SB Nation: 22nd, to the Philadelphia Eagles
Mel Kiper, ESPN: 15th, to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Dennard is precisely the player you might pick out of a lineup if you asked which guy in this draft would be a great fit in a Dick LeBeau defense. He can cover, is physical against the run, has great versatility, and will even come off the edge and succeed as a blitzer. I could see him going to either Detroit or Chicago, too. I wouldn't put WR out of the question here, but the Steelers have done well targeting that position much later in recent years.
Todd McShay, ESPN: 10th to the Detroit Lions
It wouldn't stun me if Dennard drops a little bit if he gets past Detroit, but he'd make sense for the Lions given their need at the cornerback position. He is very physical in run support and looked like a true shutdown corner at various points during the 2013 season.
Don Banks, CNNSI.com: 10th to the Detroit Lions
Mike Mayock, NFL.com: 10th to the Detroit Lions
With (Justin) Gilbert off the board, the Lions fill an area of need with Dennard. He's a plug-and-play corner who is best in press coverage.
So that's more than one writer forecasting Dennard will have his name called by Detroit, and frankly, I'm not sure how to feel about that. It's great to have another Spartan on the team I root for, but I'm not sure I want one of the best players to come out of East Lansing in years to be tainted by the malaise that seems ever-present around the Lions. What do you think?