The Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft Watch List gives you college football players to watch each week who could be on the Detroit Lions’ radar next spring, with a particular focus on positions of need. Saturday, December 27th brings college football fans five bowls to watch.
Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech – 1:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Sun Bowl: Arizona State (#15) vs. Duke – 2:00 p.m. (EST) – CBS
Independence Bowl: Miami vs. South Carolina – 3:30 p.m. (EST) – ABC
Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College vs. Penn State – 4:30 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. USC (#24) – 8:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
We’ve previously highlighted J.T. Surratt (#97), DT and A.J. Cann (#50), OG of South Carolina; as well as Leonard Williams (#94), DE and Hayes Pullard (#10), ILB of USC. Some additional players to watch during today’s bowl games:
Detrick Bonner (#8), FS – Virginia Tech
A 6-1, 206 lb. redshirt senior for the Hokies, Bonner has played 796 snaps on defense and an additional 62 on special teams. He leads the team with 39 straight starts. A versatile and reliable player, Bonner has lined up at a variety of positions for the Hokies – whip linebacker, corner, and safety. Strong and athletic, Bonner is the type of safety who could flourish at the next level. He posted 67 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, four passes broken up, two QB hurries, and one forced fumble on the 2014 season. Bonner has proven himself to be a disruption in the passing game, and should be one to keep an eye on for the 2015 draft.
Laken Tomlinson (#77), OG – Duke
The Jamaican native didn’t step onto a football field until high school, though his size, work ethic and leadership qualities resulted in multiple scholarship offers upon graduation. Tomlinson, one of five active ACC players to have earned both first team All-ACC and All-Academic honors, will no doubt bring more to a team than just on-field skills. Durable and tough, Tomlinson has started 51 consecutive games, helping the Blue Devils score 390 points this year, the third most in program history. He has anchored an offensive line which leads the country in fewest tackles per game allowed with just 3.33. The unit has surrendered just 13.0 sacks, tied for the 13th fewest in the nation. The 6-3, 320 lb. Tomlinson has everything you’re looking for in an offensive lineman: size, experience, smarts and toughness and will likely end up starting at the next level for years to come.
Duke Johnson (#8), RB – Miami
The Reggie Bush experiment is probably coming to a close, and while Riddick has promise as a utility back, the Lions will need to add some explosiveness to their backfield. There are two backs playing today who could fit the bill. Exhibit A: Duke Johnson. SideLion Report’s own Kent Platte also loves the idea of Duke Johnson coming to play for the lions. The Miami native ranks among the best in a school that has a history of producing NFL-caliber backs, with 3387 yards on 502 carries (6.7 ypc. average) and 26 touchdowns in just three seasons. Johnson lacks ideal size to hold up as a three-down back at the next level (5-9, 206 lbs.), however his rare stop-and-go acceleration, agility and long speed make him a big-play threat every time he steps on the field. In addition, he possesses reliable hands out of the backfield, providing offensive coordinators with the option to use him on wheel routes or split out wide. His injury history will bear monitoring throughout the draft process, but there’s no denying #8 is one of the most exciting players to watch in college football.
Ameer Abdullah (#8), RB – Nebraska
Exhibit B: Ameer Abdullah. The Homewood, Alabama native has been one of my favorite prospects since I saw him rack up 122 yards on 22 carries versus Michigan State his sophomore year. He wasn’t talked about much then, but it was clear he had the makings of a future star. Two years later, Abdullah is second on Nebraska’s all-time rushing chart, with 4500 yards on 786 rushing attempts (5.7 ypc. average) and 38 rushing touchdowns. Like Johnson, Abdullah has the versatility to be incorporated into a team’s passing attack, as evidenced by his 629 career receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns. While similar in size to Johnson (5-9, 195 lbs.), there are some differences between the two. Johnson probably has more burst, but Abdullah is a better inside runner, exhibiting the natural instincts to pick and slide his way through traffic without hesitation. Both players showcase the fluidity to make explosive jump cuts and elude defenders in space, though Abdullah runs a bit better through contact. At the end of the day, both players will add high caliber explosiveness, catch-and-run ability and versatility to a team’s backfield.
Adrian Amos (#4), S – Penn State
The Lions’ safety tandem has undoubtedly been among the best in the NFL this season. However, Ihedigbo is 31 years old, has missed time due to injury, and depth is questionable at the position. The Lions will likely look to add a young safety at some point in the draft to compete with Carey and Abdul-Quddus for a back-up spot. Adrian Amos, of Penn State, has all the necessary qualities to upgrade a team’s secondary at the next level. At 6-0, 209 lbs., Amos possesses the size and strength to hold up against the run if defensive coordinators want to play eight in the box. Yet with 19 games as a starting cornerback under his belt, he exhibits the fluidity to play effective coverage as well. Versatile (cornerback and safety). Competitive (team leader, offseason workouts). Athletic (4.45 forty, 35.5 inch vertical). Experienced (37 career starts). Instinctive (seven career INTs). There’s a LOT to like about Amos. Keep your eye on #4.