It’s never too early to start looking forward to April’s draft. Bowl season is now fully underway and it provides a great opportunity to watch prospects that may end up with the Lions. The Lions have a tendency to pick the best players available instead of picking for their needs. However, for right now I’ll focus on two bigger needs for the Lions in the offensive line and secondary. The scouting reports come from Fansided’s NFL Draft site, Nflmocks.com. If you want more information on the draft, be sure to check them out.
Offensive Line Prospects
Riley Reiff – Tackle – Iowa – (vs Oklahoma, Dec. 30th 10 PM)
Perhaps even more so than the tight end position, the University of Iowa is an absolute offensive lineman factory. Kirk Ferentz is a former NFL offensive line coach, and the Hawkeyes have one of the best strength and conditioning programs in all the land. Riley Reiff was a 250 pound defensive end when he came to Iowa, and with one year of strength, conditioning, and a change in diet, the Hawkeyes got him up to 300 pounds and in two years have developed him into a first round offensive tackle. Reiff will likely be an All Big Ten performer in 2011 and if he stays healthy, could be a top 15 pick in the draft. A great athlete with a blue-collar style of play, and a name to keep an eye on.
Barrett Jones – Offensive Tackle – Alabama – (vs LSU, Jan. 9th 8:30 PM)
Versatile has played guard, LT, center and also plays Right tackle…mirrors defender well…really has a good ability to get to the second level…blocks to the whistle…maintains pretty good leverage…good foot work…good bulk…good football intelligence…pretty good athlete, underrated athleticism…I think he can play tackle in some systems. but he could really excel at guard, especially in a system that does a lot of pulling and trapping…holds his ground well vs the bull rush
Michael Brewster – Center – Ohio State – (vs Florida, Jan. 2nd 1 PM)
Depending on if Peter Konz comes out, Michael Brewster is this year’s elite center to be taken in the top half of the first round. Being a four year starter at an elite program shows he is very pro ready; film confirms it. He is good in both the run and pass game. He is a natural born leader who has adapted to different types of QB’s and OL around him. He performed well against Marcus Forston and Jared Crick this year. Besides a mediocre game versus MSU he has been a stable hand at a University in turmoil. A lot of teams would like him in the mid-to-late first including: Patriots, Titans, Ravens, Giants, Buccaneers, Bears, and Lions.
Mike Adams – Tackle – Ohio State – (vs Florida, Jan 2nd 1 PM)
Mike Adams is a load on the OL. While he plays LT at Ohio State he is a RT only in the NFL. I love his disposition in the run game but if I was an NFL GM I would be worried about three things with this kid. One he can only play one position which hurts. Two his height can be a problem with his stance. Three he is an off the field head ache. All of these things will move him lower than his talent suggests. Mid to late 2nd round a team like the Dolphins, Browns, Chargers, Giants, Vikings, Lions and Saints will think about drafting him. He could go even higher if he interviews well and answers some of the questions that will be out there about him (he was suspended as part of the Ohio State scandal).
Ben Jones – Center – Georgia – (vs Michigan State, Jan 2nd 1 PM)
I’ve been impressed when I’ve watched Ben Jones. He’s a smart versatile offensive linemen who uses everything he has to control the middle of the offensive line. He has a lot of pancakes and does a really good job in space. He isn’t as strong as his frame would suggest but he still does a real good job of anchoring, I think in the N.F.L. some of those big Nose Tackles might give him some big problems. Jones snaps the ball cleanly and gets into his stance quickly. A real quality center prospect.
Chase Minnifield – Cornerback – Virginia – (vs Auburn, Dec. 31st 7:30 PM)
In my opinion, Minnifield may become the most underrated prospect in the draft despite still being projected in the late 1st and early 2nd round. He plays for a very average team, University of Virginia, and has literally been avoided this senior year. Even with such a deep corner class this year, I would not be surprised if Minnifield becomes the best. He is the best all-around cornerback in this draft and has the right character and IQ to take advantage of his immense potential.
As for a comparison, Minnifield seems like he could become the next Asante Samuel. Samuel is currently the best zone cover corner in the NFL right now which is also what Minnifield excels in. If Minnifield goes to the right team/scheme, I can see him making an immediate impact as a day 1 starter.
Janoris Jenkins – Cornerback – Northern Alabama
Janoris Jenkins is the most talented CB prospect I have ever viewed. He is as close to Darrelle Revis as one can get. His ability to mirror receivers and cut off their routes, deflect the ball, and beat the receiver to the ball make him a shut down CB. Though on the short side he is very muscular and powerful. This power allows him to alter WR’s routes in the red zone and make up for his height. He is very solid against the run.
Mark Barron – Safety – Alabama – (vs LSU, Jan 9th 8:30 PM)
My player comparision of Darren Sharper is of Sharper later in his career. Barron doesn’t have great athleticsm but is always around the ball and flying around making plays. Like a veteran Sharper Barron will make plays because he is instinctual, but also like Sharper teams will be able to take advantage of him on one on one situations and by running right at him. Barron could really be a dynamo on special teams early in his career as well. In the modern day N.F.L. strong safeties are a bit devalued as offenses continue to open it up and I’m interested to see how Barron stock is effected by his coverage ability.
Markelle Martin – Safety – Oklahoma State – (vs Stanford, Jan 2nd 8:30 PM)
Markelle Martin is a solid football player. He is far from special. He is consistent in coverage and hardly ever misses assignments…but he does not generate many big plays in any form. He has good speed and is a leader of the Cowboys defense so he is very intriguing in that manner. He will be a capable starter in the NFL but not talked about much.
Stephon Gilmore – Conerback – South Carolina – (vs Nebraska, Jan 2nd 1 PM)
In the end, I think of Gilmore as a future NFL pro bowl corner. As I’ve mentioned in a previousarticle, I love corners with size (for those who don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll summarize it; big corners with strength can jam the release of wide receivers to the point that safeties have the freedom to line up closer to the line of scrimmage and still cover a deep zone, because the receivers took a longer time to get into their route). Gilmore’s size and strength entices me. His production in coverage is phenomenal. And he will be a great player in the NFL.