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. Friday, January 2nd brings college football fans three bowls to watch.
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Taxslayer Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee– 3:20 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Carl Davis (#71), DT – Iowa
Carl Davis, a 6-5, 315 lb. senior defensive tackle, was named second team All-Big Ten by league coaches in 2013 following a season in which he put up 42 tackles, four tackles for loss, one and half sacks, and one pass defended. As for this season, he has 34 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and two sacks under his belt.
Davis is very athletic for a big man and moves quite well for his size. He can handle double teams and has strong hands to control blocks on contact. His excellent size and the fact he’s a local product (he attended Sterling Heights Stevenson HS) could make him an interesting prospect for the Detroit Lions.
Brandon Scherff (#68), OT – Iowa
Brandon Scherff, a senior offensive lineman for the Hawkeyes, received the team’s Roy. J. Carver Offensive Most Valuable Player and Team Hustle awards last season. The 6-5, 320 lb. left tackle is also a 2014 Lombardi Award semifinalist. Scherff is a natural bender with good hand technique. He utilizes lower body strength and leverage to consistently create movement off the LOS versus a head up defender. He is a better run blocker than pass blocker, but utilizes hand placement and powerful upper body strength to control defenders once he locks on.
Scherff is natural on the move, with the agility and body control to break down and hit second level targets. He has smooth movement, but is a bit stiff in the hips and can struggle re-directing to counter against quick inside moves. He can drop his base and hold his ground versus the bull rush. He is a versatile player, having lined up as both guard and tackle throughout his career. Scherff may be a better fit on the right side.
A.J. Johnson (#45), MLB – Tennessee
With an SEC-leading 324 career tackles coming into his senior season, Johnson picked up right where he left off last season, accumulating 101 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception in 2014. Johnson had no problem topping the 100 tackle mark for the third consecutive season, making him the first player in Vol history to do so. Although he’s not necessarily a big play defender, Johnson is an instinctive, hard-hitting run defender who could earn a living as a solid player inside in multiple schemes. With his impressive stats in his senior season, Johnson should be able to improve the mid-round grade he received from the NFL Advisory Committee when he considered leaving for the NFL last year.
Alamo Bowl: Kansas State (#11) vs. UCLA (#14) – 6:45 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Eric Kendricks (#6), ILB – UCLA
Like his brother, Philadelphia Eagle’s Mychal Kendricks, Eric Kendricks has what it takes to be a linebacker at the next level. The 6-0, 230 lb. redshirt senior has the versatility to play a role in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Kendricks led the Pac-12 for tackles during the 2012 season and led the Bruins in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He has 135 tackles, three interceptions (one for TD), and two sacks on the books for 2014.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (#94), DE – UCLA
Having missed the entire 2013 season because of two left hip surgeries, this pass rusher has surprisingly exploded on the field in 2014. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a 6-3, 270 lb. right defensive end has been exceptional with his ability to disrupt plays. With 53 tackles, nine and a half tackles for loss, and five sacks this season, Odighizuwa put in a solid season. If he can keep healthy, he will be one to watch come spring.
Cactus Bowl: Washington vs. Oklahoma State – 10:15 p.m. (EST) – ESPN
Danny Shelton (#55), DT – Washington
The 6-2, 339 lb. defensive tackle for the Huskies is a lineman unlike many others. His size alone forces opponents to run two blockers against him. A Bednarik Award semi-finalist, the senior tackle has nine sacks, 89 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and three QB hurries on the season.
While he lacks the speed and athleticism to make highlight-reel worthy defensive plays, Shelton consistently stops the run and even manages to make his way through the o-line to the QB on a fairly regular basis. Shelton plays with extreme awareness, shedding blockers at the most opportune time to make key plays. Named to the Pac 12’s All Academic First team the last two years in a row, Shelton’s imposing frame and intelligence on and off the field will catch the eye of many teams in the league.
Hau’oli Kikaha (#8), OLB – Washington
Kikaha, a senior linebacker for Washington, has been turning heads this season. He finished the season leading the nation in sacks (18) and tackles for loss (24). He was also a finalist for the Hendicks, Lombardi, Lott, and Butkus Awards, as well as a semifinalist for the Bednarik award.
The 6-3, 243 lb. pass rusher has 67 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two passes defended on top of his other nation-leading stats this season. Kikaha has transitioned well with this being his first season as a stand up linebacker, having previously lined up full-time with his hand on the ground. Known for his strength and constant effort playing through the whistle, the only question for team’s at the next level will be his health. Having gone through two ACL injuries over his college career, his potential durability in the NFL might make this otherwise first-rounder drop to day two.