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. Wednesday, December 31st brings college football fans three bowls to watch.
Peach Bowl: Ole Miss (#9) vs. TCU (#6) – 12:30 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State (#20) vs. Arizona (#10) – 4:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Orange Bowl: Mississippi State (#7) vs. Georgia Tech (#12) – 8:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
A few players to watch during the bowl games:
Cody Prewitt (#25), FS – Ole Miss
Prewitt is finishing his third season as a starter at free safety for the Rebels and is among the nation’s best at the position. With 60 tackles and a memorable 70-yard pick six in the match up against Texas A&M, his 2014 play earned him First Team All-America accolades. At 6-2, 217 lbs., Prewitt possesses prototypical height and weight for the position, while maintaining the necessary fluidity and change of direction to cover.
He has good enough speed to range from the hash in two deep or maintain the last line of defense when playing single high. What’s most impressive about Prewitt, however, are his route recognition and ball skills, where he showcases nice timing and the hands to consistently bring in the interception.
Woodrow Hamilton (#56), NT – Ole Miss
A two-year starter, redshirt junior Woodrow Hamilton is an important piece to the Rebels’ defensive scheme. In the Rebels 4-2-5 base defense, Hamilton typically lines up at the nose (inside shoulder of the guard), where he’s asked to eat up gaps. The 6-3, 315 lb. tackle isn’t a player who posts an impressive stat line; however, he’s the guy out there making it possible for others to make key plays. With 31 tackles and 1 sack to round out the 2013 season, the fiery Hamilton is undoubtedly looking to be an even bigger asset to the defensive line this year, and will be one to watch as the Lions seek defensive tackle depth.
Tra’Mayne Bondurant (#21), FS – Arizona
Despite having a rough start to the season, senior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant has regained the confidence and trust of his coaches and teammates. He briefly quit the team due to family issues over the summer. Because of this, he had to work his way back up to starting for the Wildcats again – something he did not achieve until late September against Cal.
On the season, the 5-10, 216 lb. safety has two interceptions, one fumble returned for a touchdown, 69 tackles, four and half tackles for loss, and one sack. A versatile defender, having previously played in Arizona’s “spur” safety role for two seasons as part of their 3-3-5 defense, he has a lot of upside at the next level.
Benardrick McKinney (#50), LB – Mississippi State
Benardrick McKinney is regarded as one of the top linebackers in the SEC. At 6-5, 249 lbs., McKinney was named one of the top 14 “Freakish” athletes in the nation by NFL.com this season. During the 2014 season, he had 61 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one fumble return, three sacks, four pass breakups, and three QB hurries.
His versatility will make the junior linebacker for the Bulldogs attractive to NFL teams. He is a former high school quarterback and has played both inside and outside at Mississippi State. While McKinney has alluded to entering the draft as a junior, he’s a player that might benefit from sticking around for his senior year to develop a little further. Regardless, his speed, athleticism and intensity allow him to make plays all over the field and he is one to keep an eye on.
Preston Smith (#91 ), DE – Mississippi State
The 6-6, 270 lb. senior defensive lineman for Mississippi State was relatively unheard of prior to this season, but has be come known for wreaking havoc in the backfield. Smith has always been solid against the run, however he’s flashed the athletic ability to even drop into coverage this season, which provides defensive coordinators with versatility. This season, Smith has accumulated one touchdown, two interceptions, 44 tackles, fourteen and a half tackles for loss, nine sacks, three pass breakups, fifteen QB hurries, two forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks.
Smith has already made history this season by being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three straight times, a feat never before accomplished and his best football may still be ahead of him.