Sanders transferred from Alabama to Arkansas in 2022 in search of a better opportunity, and he certainly found it. He was an all-around force for the Razorbacks (103 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles). He was used as a middle linebacker and off the edge in Barry Odom’s scheme. That sack total was 10th in FBS, and his 103 tackles was third in the SEC.
Sanders could jump into the first round based on expected top-notch athletic testing at the Combine and one season of opportunity that yielded the production it did. The “only one year as a starter” thing does not hold up to real scrutiny, considering where he started his college career.
The Lions could use another talented young linebacker to pair with Malcolm Rodriguez, and Sanders coud mixed in coming off the edge too.
This feels a little early for an offensive lineman, but the Lions are lined up to have an immediate or future hole at right guard. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is lined up to be cut, and Evan Brown may get a nice bag from another team in free agency.
Patterson played center for three seasons at Notre Dame, then he moved to left guard last season. So he’d be learning a new position if the Lions wanted him as their starting right guard, but in another sense his versatility is something they would covet. Left guard Jonah Jackson is also entering the final year of his rookie contract, though an extension definitely feels likely there.
Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley would have something to work with here.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged the need to think about a post-Jared Goff future under center, and Hooker has met with them at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.
Over his two seasons at Tennessee, Hooker had 58 touchdown passes and just five interceptions while completely close to 69 percent of his passes. He would seem to a great fit for Ben Johnson’s offense, as Goff’s conservative-tilting style is similar.
Of course the fly in the ointment with Hooker is his recovery from a torn ACL that shortened his final college season. But a team that wouldn’t need to start him right away, like the Lions, would be a perfect fit. He can get his knee healthy, and in the meantime be diving into learning an NFL playbook.