DETROIT – With the NFL offseason and all things NFL Draft moved virtual, one in-person evaluation period before the coronavirus that has become more important for the draft is the Senior Bowl. In January, Matt Patricia and the Lions staff coached the Senior Bowl’s North team (who ended up winning the game 34-17). Coaching in the game gave the Lions staff a close look at the players and seeing how they worked with their coaching style. That makes it more likely some of them will be Lions next year.
Here’s some players the Lions could pick from their Senior Bowl team.
Josh Uche, DE Michigan
The Lions biggest need is in pass rush and Uche showed his ability to get to the QB at the Senior Bowl. He has speed and quick hands to keep blockers off him or disengage when rushing the quarterback. Uche can cover pass catchers as well – his work in drills during the week caught the eye of scouts and writers in attendance.
Zack Baun, LB Wisconsin
Baun played mostly as an edge rusher in college but at the Senior Bowl he worked as both an end and linebacker. That’s something that would appeal to the Lions because they want versatile linebackers. Baun had 12.5 sacks last year at Wisconsin, placing him in the top 10 for sacks in the country.
KJ Hill, WR Ohio State
Hill had a productive senior year at Ohio State (57 catches, 10 touchdowns) ending his career there as the school’s all-time receptions leader. He’s a slot receiver who uses crisp route running to find open space. He could end up being an eventual replacement for Danny Amendola.
Quartney Davis, WR Texas A&M
Davis is a more versatile receiver as lines up both in the slot and outside. He’s got size at 6’2” and showed flashes of great playmaking ability in college. His touchdown production did decrease in 2019 – he only had four touchdowns compared to seven in 2018. Davis could be a value pick in this deep wide receiver draft.
Leki Fotu, DT Utah
Fotu is a big guy (6’5”, 330 lbs) that the Lions could plug into the middle of their defensive line as a run stopping replacement for Snacks Harrison. His game looks a little one-dimensional in that he’ll have to work on developing his pass rush ability. Fotu could be a later-round, project like pick for the Lions.
Darius Anderson, RB TCU
Anderson got some Senior Bowl buzz with a 75-yard touchdown catch from Michigan QB Shea Patterson. Anderson has great speed and the Lions are looking for more big-play ability at running back. He could be a later-round addition for the Lions with some upside - possibly filling a third-down running back role.