Dec 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive end Alex Okafor (80) reacts against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half of the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Texas beat Oregon State 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Sadly, the 2012 college football season has come to an end. During the bowl games, SideLion Report took a look at some of the prospects watch, some of whom could end up being Detroit Lions after the 2013 NFL Draft. Some of them acquitted themselves very well in their respective games.
Let’s take a look at a few particular players who stood out that could potentially be on the Lions’ radar come draft time.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State – Formerly a wide receiver, Williams made the full-time transition to running back this season, and flourished. After being shut down in the first three quarters against Toledo, Williams went on a running spree in the fourth quarter to finish with 235 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win. General manager Martin Mayhew addressed the fact that he failed to have an insurance policy for Jahvid Best last season. That leads me to believe he will find someone for that role for this year. Williams could be a guy to watch.
Ezekial Ansah, DE, BYU – If there is a player that you can bring into your facility, get up to speed on you scheme and playbook, and then mold them into the player that you envision, that would be Ezekial Ansah. Originally from Africa, Ansah has only played a few seasons of football so the best is yet to come with this kid. He has a great frame that is the size of a prototypical defensive end. But the fact that he has dominated at his position in only a few short years of playing football has scouts drooling. If he is around in the second round, the Lions need to take him. He could be the next Jason Pierre-Paul.
Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt – One draft tactic that the Lions have ignored lately that seemingly every other team in the NFL recognizes is that you are able to pick up talented running backs in the later rounds of the draft. The Lions are repeatedly using high draft picks on skill position players that are not panning out the way the fans would like. If the Lions decide to pick up a running back in say the fourth round, perhaps, Stacy could be a great selection. Stacy did it all for the Commodores in their win over NC State. He ran out of the I-formation, wildcat, and even threw a pass during the game. He looks to be an under-the-radar running back that could turn out to be a nice No. 2 option at the position.
Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU – Mingo provided constant pressure all game long in the loss to Clemson. He and line mate, Sam Montgomery, were wreaking havoc in the backfield for most of the game until they were burned out because of the amount of plays Clemson ran on offense. Though some believe Mingo is a better fit in a 3-4 system because he is a bit light for the position at 240 pounds, the Lions like undersized defensive ends so Mingo may be perfect for their system. Pairing him with Avril possibly on the outside with Suh and Fairley on the interior could be dominant.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson – As much as it pains me to say, the Lions still need wide receivers. Outside of Calvin Johnson, there really is not much certainty at the position right now. Burleson could be a cap casualty. Titus Young could never play another down as a Detroit Lion. And Broyles may not be ready for the beginning of next year because of yet another ACL injury. Hopkins had himself quite the game against a top-notch defense in LSU. He was able to shine with Sammy Watkins hobbled by an injury early on in the game. If he comes out, and is sitting there in the second round, I might nab him because he has top end speed, but also some size to him as well so he has the ability to play across from Megaton. Something the Lions don’t have on the roster as of now.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Although much of the focus was on Jadaveon Clowney, Lewan had himself quite a day as well. Besides two big hits, Clowney was held in check all game long. Lewan, if he were to declare for the draft, assured himself a Top 15 selection with his performance in the Outback Bowl. It’s unlikely the Lions take an offensive tackle that high, but with some uncertainty surrounding the futures of both Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, offensive tackle could be in play.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas – The reason Texas won against Oregon State was because of the constant pressure that was being put on Oregon State quarterbacks by Okafor and Co. The defensive end finished the game with 4 ½ sacks, his best performance of the year. There is no doubt that one of the Lions top needs is defensive end, and Okafor could be a perfect fit. He has been inconsistent at times throughout his career, so the Lions would not consider him at 5, but if he were to slip into Round 2, Mayhew should think long and hard about selecting him.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama – For some odd reason Notre Dame just kept attacking Milliner on the outside, and all he did was swat away whatever crossed his path. Most believe Milliner is a sure-fire, Top 10 selection, and his performance in the national championship game pretty much cemented that believe. It was a good game plan by Notre Dame to throw the football, but throwing towards Milliner was the wrong choice. The Lions desperately need a shut-down cornerback with some size, and Milliner could be that guy if he does well in pre-draft workouts.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama – At No. 5, I don’t think the Lions can afford to draft a guard, but this might just be the year to do so with Warmack on the board. There are questions about his pass-blocking because of his short arms, which could cause him to slide a bit in the first round, but he is undeniably a beast in the run-blocking department. He proved that when he engulfed linebacker Manti Teo time after time. The Lions need interior line help badly, as general manager Martin Mayhew hinted at, but the team may address that later on in the draft.