The college bowl system may be watered down but it does provide for a final look at a number of draft-eligible players on a nationals stage. Here is the bowl schedule for today as well as a look at a few players that could be on the Lions’ radar come April.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
NC State vs. Vanderbilt
David Amerson, CB, NC State – At 6’2″ and 194 pounds, cornerbacks don’t get any bigger than David Amerson. He was the FBS interceptions leader in 2011 with ten but saw that number cut in half in 2012. While his size is a plus, his speed is a question mark and might mean Amerson is better suited to play safety in the NFL. In either case, he may be able to help the Lions’ defense. Amerson may be a day two pick right now but a good 40-yard dash time at the combine could make some teams consider him in the first round.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt – Matthews has football in his blood as a cousin of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. He lined up inside and out for the Commodores and may be remembered as the school’s best-ever wide receiver. He’s only a junior but could be a day two pick in the 2013 draft.
Earl Wolff, SS, NC State – 6′, 208 pound strong safety could get drafted on day three.
Brandan Bishop, FS, NC State – 6’2″, 205 pound free safety noted for his coverage skills and awareness in the passing game. Could be a late round draft pick.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
USC vs. Georgia Tech
2 p.m., CBS
Nickell Robey, CB, USC – He hasn’t declared for the draft yet but Nickell Robey could go as high as the second round if he does. Size is the biggest concern with Robey, who stands just 5’8″ and weighs 168 pounds.
Morgan Breslin, DE, USC – The Trojans had a big hole to fill with Nick Perry’s departure to the NFL after last season. JUCO transfer Morgan Breslin filled it admirably and could find himself in the NFL as a second day pick if he decides to declare for the 2013 draft. He is a bit undersized for a defensive end at 6’2″ and 250 pounds but the Lions haven’t shown a concern for such criticism.
Khaled Holmes, C, USC – Dominic Raiola won’t play forever and Khaled Holmes could help the Lions at either guard position until Raiola’s spot at center opens up. Day two looks like the most likely spot for Holmes to come off the board in April.
T.J. McDonald, FS, USC – The son of former 49ers safety Tim McDonald, T.J. McDonald has received a lot of hype since signing with the Trojans. He possesses a nice balance of skills at the safety position that could make him a perfect candidate for the Lions who like to play more right-left alignments rather than labeling their safeties as strong or free. McDonald could be a good value pick on day two.
Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Georgia Tech – The Lions have had a lot of problems creating running lanes up front. A good way to help improve that would be to add a guy like Omoregie Uzzi who is no stranger to run blocking in Georgia Tech’s flexbone offense. He may head to the NFL as a fourth round draft pick.
Rod Sweeting, CB, Georgia Tech – Currently regarded as a possible late-round pick, Sweeting will have an opportunity to improve that with a good showing against the USC Trojans. His frame is lean but he is a fluid athlete and could improve his stock if he is able to add some strength before the draft.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State vs. Tulsa
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Jake Knott, OLB, Iowa State – Knott won’t play in the Liberty Bowl after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury earlier this season. He still made the All-Big 12 First Team and could be a late round pick in April or sign as an undrafted free agent.
Dexter McCoil, FS, Tulsa – If the Lions go looking for a safety with ball skills that comes with little investment necessary, Dexter McCoil could be a good choice. He is Tulsa’s career leader in interceptions with 17 and leads the Golden Hurricane in interceptions and pass breakups this season. He is looking like a 7th round/UDFA guy at this point.
LSU vs. Clemson
7:30 p.m., ESPN
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU – Could be a first round pick but might be an option for the Lions later on if he starts to slip down the draft board.
Eric Reid, FS, LSU – Has the tools to be a first round pick but has shown enough inconsistency that teams might want to make a safer selection with their top pick. Should be part of the discussion in the Lions’ war room if Reid is available when the Lions are on the clock in round two.
Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – The Lions figure to fill Jahvid Best’s role in the offense with someone other than Jahvid Best in 2013. If they choose to do that through the draft, Andre Ellington could be a guy they look to, somewhere around the third round.
Lavar Edwards, DE, LSU – Other LSU pass rushers will receive more attention during the draft process but Lavar Edwards is another LSU Tiger that will hear his name called in April, probably early on day three of the draft.
Malliciah Goodman, DE, Clemson – Goodman relies on strength and motor rather than speed but he has been able to consistently pressure quarterbacks just the same. Currently projected as an early day three selection in the 2013 draft.
Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson – Hall is an experienced player with 39 starts in his Clemson career. He has good size at 6’1″ and 210 pounds and projects as a sixth round draft pick.
Dalton Freeman, C, Clemson – The AP named Freeman a Second Team All-American for the 2012 season. He has made 48 consecutive starts and will tie the Clemson career record with his 49th. He is a bit light at his listed weight of 286 pounds but at 6’4″, he has the frame to add the bulk he will need to play effectively at the NFL level.
Brad Wing, P, LSU – Yes, a punter. Brad Wing left his native Australia for the sole purpose of becoming a professional punter. He is good enough and he is eligible to leave school this year so he is doing so. The Lions always seemed to be on the wrong side of a field position battle and upgrading from Ryan Donahue/Ben Graham/Nick Harris to Brad Wing is a big enough improvement to warrant using a draft pick. There, I said it.