Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft Watch List: Rose Bowl Edition


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. Thursday, January 1st brings college football fans five bowls to watch.

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The fourth is a semi-final game for the National Championship.

Rose Bowl: Florida State (#3) vs. Oregon (#2)– 5:00 p.m. (EST) – ESPN

Players to watch during the Rose Bowl:

P.J. Williams (#26), CB – Florida State

Williams, a junior corner for the Seminoles, has been impressive to watch develop. The 6-0, 198 lb. ball hawk was awarded Defensive MVP during the National Championship game against Auburn last season. Widely seen as one of the most consistent defensive backs in college football, Williams had 60 tackles, one interception, six tackles for loss, ten passes broken up, and one sack through in 2014.

A Bronko Nagurski Award, Bednarik Award, Jim Thorpe Award, and All-America Award Candidate for 2014, Williams is a big-play maker with the speed and physical play teams at the next level look for in that position.

Ronald Darby (#3), CB – Florida State

Having been named the 2012 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, expectations for Darby have been set high ever since his freshman year, and so far he hasn’t disappointed. Darby has not allowed a touchdown since Florida State’s 2012 matchup against Maryland – no receiver has scored on him in 25 games.

A track star, Darby has the speed and athleticism to beat receivers on every play, making him a defender the opposing team’s offense wants to avoid altogether. This season he has 37 tackles, one tackle for loss, four passes broken up and one forced fumble.

Mario Edwards, Jr. (#15), DE – Florida State

Though only a junior, this defensive end for the Seminoles is certainly on the radar screen of NFL scouts.  As he keeps adding performances to his resume like he had against Virginia a few weeks ago (career high nine tackles, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack), the pressure will be there to leave school early for the draft. Despite missing a few games this season after a concussion and an MCL injury, Edwards has 44 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes broken up, and two forced fumbles on the season.

Known for his ability as a run-stopper, Edwards uses his 6-3, 294 lb. frame to set the edge and exhibits strong hands to shed blocks on contact.  As a pass-rusher, power is the name of the game for Edwards.  While he lacks the burst and bend you’d like to see in a RDE, Edwards utilizes a powerful lower half to drive OL back and collapse the pocket as a bull-rusher. Perhaps most intriguing to an NFL defensive coordinator, however, is his versatility.  Edwards will be at his best as an LDE in a 43 front with his hand in the dirt, though he’s played in a two-point stance, moved inside and has even blitzed from space.

Eddie Goldman (#90), DT – Florida State

A former five-star recruit, junior Eddie Goldman is a 6-4, 320 lb. defensive tackle who has been the centerpiece of the ‘Noles defensive line this season. He began his career as a reserve tackle, became a starting end last season, and ultimately moved back inside in 2014. This season, Goldman has 35 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass defended and one forced fumble.

Often compared to former Florida State tackle, Timmy Jernigan (second round), Goldman utilizes his size well to two-gap and tie up double teams. In addition to being effective versus the run, Goldman exhibits the quickness, agility and balance to contribute as a pass-rusher.  Most important to NFL teams, however, is his ability to make key plays when needed.  In FSU’s 23-17 overtime victory over Clemson with the score tied 17-17, under two minutes remaining and Clemson poised to score from the FSU 18 yard line, Goldman forced a fumble that the Seminoles recovered. He then sacked Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson for a four-yard loss on the first possession of overtime and, two plays later, led the way in making the stop on a fourth-and-1 play that went for no gain and ultimately provided FSU with the opportunity to win the game.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (#14), CB – Oregon

A semifinalist for both the Jim Thorpe Award and the Bednarik Award last season, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has the kind of talent many NFL teams would want to add to their repertoire. The 5-10, 195 lb. senior has 63 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions, nine passes defended so far this season.

While he lacks elite size and speed for the position, he makes up for it with his awareness on the field that allows him to make huge defensive plays. Ekpre-Olomu, who is one of the top-ranked corners in the country, is the definition of a ball hawk.  There is no question that he’ll be on the top of many NFL team’s draft boards.

Arik Armstead (#9), DE – Oregon

Arik Armstead, a 6-8, 295 lb. senior defensive end for the Ducks, is hard to miss on defensive line. Not only does his size make him a standout, so does his play ability. For a team whose defensive scheme doesn’t lend itself to big stats, so far this season Armstead has two and a half sacks, 33 tackles, five and a half tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovered. A behemoth on the line, his strength and athleticism give him obvious upside.