The Detroit Lions 2015 NFL Draft Watch List gives you college football players to watch who could be on the Detroit Lions’ radar this spring, with a particular focus on positions of need.
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Senior Bowl – Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. (EST) – NFL Network
The Senior Bowl is the National Football League’s premier senior showcase event. It annually features the country’s best senior collegiate football players and top draft prospects on teams representing the North and South that are coached by two NFL teams. Every NFL franchise sends down a heavy contingent of personnel evaluators and coaches to primarily watch the practices leading up the game and conduct interviews.
The following are six players on the North Team who have caught my eye throughout the season – tomorrow we will be highlighting players from the South Team:
1. Ameer Abdullah (#28), RB – Nebraska
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 4588 yards on 813 rushing attempts (5.6 ypc. average) and 39 rushing touchdowns. Abdullah has the versatility to be incorporated into a team’s passing attack, as evidenced by his 690 career receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
Abdullah (5-9,195 lbs.) is a strong inside runner, exhibiting the natural instincts to pick and slide his way through traffic without hesitation. He showcases the fluidity to make explosive jump cuts and elude defenders in space, and runs well through contact. At the end of the day, Abdullah will add high caliber explosiveness, catch-and-run ability and versatility to a team’s backfield.
2. Trenton Brown (#79), OG – Florida
A 2013 transfer from Georgia Military College, the massively imposing offensive lineman for the Gators is one to keep an eye on. At 6-8, 360 lbs., and a former high school basketball player, Brown is surprisingly light on his feet for a big guy. Even more notable to the coaching staff was his commitment to re-shaping his body once he arrived in Gainesville.
Brown stepped up last season after numerous injuries to the Gators’ o-line, finishing out the final five games starting at right tackle. With everyone healthy this year, Brown moved inside to right guard. Brown’s versatility is a plus, but it’s his sheer size that will get him looks at the next level, particularly for teams that run heavy doses of “Power-O”.
3. Danny Shelton (#95), DT – Washington
The 6-2, 339 lb. defensive tackle for the Huskies is a lineman unlike many others, as his sheer size alone consistently presents the need for double-team match-ups by opponents. A Bednarik Award semi-finalist, the senior tackle had nine sacks, 93 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and three QB hurries on the 2014 season.
While he lacks the explosiveness to be a true gap-shooter, Shelton’s impressive motor allows him to be surprisingly effective as a pass-rusher for a big man. There is little doubt in terms of his ability to stop the run. His size, strength and knack for shedding blocks with ease will consistently allow him to clog the middle. Named to the Pac 12’s All Academic First team the last three 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. With a strong week in Mobile, Shelton will cement his status as a top ten pick and the Lions will have to trade up to get him.
4. 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 the 2014 season, he had 36 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, and five QB hurries under his belt.
Davis showcases the necessary athleticism to be an effective three-down player at the next level. He possesses strong hands, providing him with the capability to control blockers on contact and tie-up double teams. His size, versatility and the fact he’s a local product (he attended Sterling Heights Stevenson HS) could make him an intriguing prospect for the Detroit Lions.
5. Hau’oli Kikaha (#98), OLB – Washington
Kikaha, a senior linebacker for Washington, really turned heads this season. He lead the nation in sacks (19) and was second in tackles for loss (25). He was also a finalist for the Lombardi, Butkus, Lott, and Hendricks awards and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. The 6-3, 243 lb. pass rusher has 72 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two passes defended on top of his other nation-leading stats for the year.
Kikaha transitioned well in 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 willingness to hustle from snap to whistle on every down, the only question for teams at the next level will be his health. Having gone through two ACL injuries over his college career, his durability concerns could likely drop him to day two.
6. Adrian Amos (#4), S – Penn State
The Lions’ safety tandem had 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 (started at both 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.
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