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Michigan State boasts deep pool of talent for combine

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Michigan State again will have strong representation at the NFL combine this week with six Spartans in attendance.

Cornerback Trae Waynes leads the group as surefire first-round pick and likely the top cornerback in the draft, but Michigan State has a deep group of talent that could be selected throughout draft, which begins April 30.

Running back Jeremy Langford and wide receiver Tony Lippett are both likely mid-round picks who attended the Senior Bowl last month with hopes of boosting their draft stock. Behind them, linebacker Taiwan Jones, wide receiver Keith Mumphery and safety Kurtis Drummond, who also attended the Senior Bowl, will try to impress scouts at the combine this week.

The 6-foot-1 Waynes is the top cornerback, according to NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock, because he's comfortable in press coverage, can tackle, is competitive and has length. Though Washington's Marcus Peters and LSU's Jalen Collins have first-round talent, Wayneslikely will be the first cornerback off the board.

"I just think Trae Waynes' makeup and the fact that I trust that he'll come in and compete Day 1 is kind of the difference-maker for me," Mayock said on a teleconference Monday.

Mayock said last month Lippett should keep his options open in case teams want to draft him to play cornerback, but he's likely a mid-round pick either way. Langford could go as high as the third round, but he's in a loaded running back class.

Drummond played better in 2013 than 2014, according to NFL.com analyst Charles Davis, and ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thinks he's a fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Jones is a "thumper" and "a little better athletically than people think," Mayock said, and he could play inside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3. ESPN ranks him the No. 6 inside linebacker and No. 124 prospect overall.

Mumphery had 26 catches for 495 yards in 2014, paling in comparison to Lippett's 65 catches for 1,198 yards, and Mayock thinks he's a late-round pick or a priority free agent.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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