A closer look at the 7 Michigan State players at the NFL Combine

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Back-to-back seven-win seasons might not exactly indicate a roster full of NFL talent, but for Michigan State, the two facts haven’t correlated.

Seven Spartans will be taking part in this week’s NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, matching the most ever in program history. The last time Michigan State had seven players go through the combine was following the 2015 season when the Spartans won the Big Ten and reached the College Football Playoff.

Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes (48) was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer and won the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.

That number has been reached again despite another 7-6 season that ended with a win over Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl in what turned out to be the final game for coach Mark Dantonio. He stepped down in February as the program’s winningest coach and was replaced by Mel Tucker.

Here’s a look at the seven Michigan State players taking part in the combine and where they might get drafted.

Kenny Willekes, DE, 6-4, 252

The former walk-on was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in his junior season of 2018 after piling up 20.5 tackles for loss along with 8.5 sacks. He came back from a broken leg suffered in the Redbox Bowl to record 16 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks as a senior in 2019. He was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer and won the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.

Projected draft position: Rounds 3-4

Cornerback Josiah Scott is one of two Michigan State players at the NFL Combine who entered the NFL Draft early.

Josiah Scott, CB, 5-10, 171

He stared in all 30 games he played during his Michigan State career before opting to forgo his senior season with the Spartans. Scott was a freshman All-American in 2017 before missing the first eight games of his sophomore season in 2018 with a knee injury. He responded in 2019 by starting all 13 games while recording 55 tackles, intercepting three passes and leading the Spartans with eight pass breakups.

Projected draft position: Rounds 4-5

More: Michigan State’s Josiah Scott will play in NFL a ‘long time,’ analyst predicts

Joe Bachie, LB, 6-2, 231

He was named team MVP as a sophomore in 2017 while earning third-team All-Big Ten honors and leading the team with 100 tackles. Bachie backed that up in 2018 with 102 tackles while All-Big Ten first-team honors as he also had 8.5 tackles for loss. He played the first eight games in 2019 and collected 71 tackles before missing the final five games after a positive PED test, a question that is sure to come up at the combine.

Projected draft position: Rounds 5-6

Raequan Williams, DT, 6-4, 303

One of the Spartans’ most consistent players who had a chance to leave for the draft after the 2018 season, but returned for his senior year. The athletic tackle earned third-team All-Big Ten honors in both 2018 and 2019, piling up 53 tackles, including 10.5 for loss and two sacks as a junior. During his senior season, Williams had 48 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and five sacks.

Projected draft position: Rounds 5-6

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke bounced back from an injury-ravaged 2018 season to throw for more than 3,000 yards as a senior.

Brian Lewerke, QB, 6-2, 213

Lewerke had an outstanding sophomore season in 2017, becoming the first Michigan State QB to pass for at least 2,500 yards (2,793) and run for at least 500 yards (559) while piling up the second-most total yards in program history. An injured throwing shoulder led to a miserable 2018 when he completed just 54.3 percent of his passes. Lewerke returned to start all 13 games as a senior in 2019, but completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 3,079 yards and 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.

Projected draft position: Round 7/free agent

Darrell Stewart, WR, 6-0, 212

Stewart was never the flashiest receiver on the Spartans’ roster, but he made tough catches over the middle and was one of Lewerke’s favorite targets who also had the ability to run after the catch. He had 50 receptions as a sophomore in 2017 and followed that with 48 grabs with just one touchdown as a junior in 2018. He was having a solid senior season before a foot injury knocked him out of the final three regular season games, as Stewart ended the season with 49 catches and four touchdowns.

Projected draft position: Round 7/free agent

More: Niyo: Michigan State's Cody White making 'leap of faith' to grab NFL dream

Cody White, WR, 6-3, 217

A versatile player when he first arrived at Michigan State, White quickly made a name for himself with 35 catches and four touchdowns as a true freshman in 2017. He bumped that up to 42 receptions with two touchdowns in 2018, despite missing four games with a broken hand. White started 12 of 13 games in 2019 and had 66 catches for 922 yards and six touchdowns before opting to forgo his final season and enter the draft.

Projected draft position: Round 7/free agent


Twitter: @mattcharboneau