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2018 East-West Shrine Game preview: 9 defensive players for the Lions to watch

The Detroit Lions staff is in attendance for the East-West Shrine Game, so we’re looking into some of the players to watch out for.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Taxslayer Bowl - Louisville v Mississippi St Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Around 250 collegiate football players will be drafted every year into the NFL, but the number of players who are eligible to be drafted is far higher and they take every opportunity they can to impress NFL scouts. The biggest All Star game that players get their chance to show their skills at is the Senior Bowl, but what about the underclassmen?

Enter the East-West Shrine Game, an All-Star game that all 32 teams attend and media flocks to as well. While none of the POD staff were able to make their way to the practices, Real GM, BrownsWire, and long time Lions contact Jeff Risdon was in attendance and managed to spot Detroit Lions Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle O’Brien. Jeff didn’t see general manager Bob Quinn, but he was believed to be in attendance as well. With big names in attendance, we’re going to take a look at who the Lions may be watching at the Shrine Game.

Linebackers

Pass rushers will be more exciting, but word is that the Lions were playing close attention to the crop of linebackers during practices, so that’s where we’re going to start.

Tegray Scales, Indiana, 6-foot, 230 pounds

With scouting reports that read uncannily like 2017 first-round pick Jarrad Davis, Scales has been lauded for his athleticism, production, and play-making ability. His football intelligence is also highly regarded, as is his versatility in playing a number of different roles as an off-the-ball linebacker. Scales is currently projected to go between the third and sixth rounds.

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State, 6-foot-2, 244 pounds

A pass-rushing linebacker that could help the Lions if they want to show more 3-4 fronts under their new head coach, Rolland-Jones has been fairly productive for Arkansas State. Ja’Von was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. After becoming the first defensive player to win the award since 2003, he went ahead and did so twice. He is currently projected to go in the fifth round or later.

Defensive Ends

Of course the Lions are going to be paying attention to pass rush since they need both starters and depth for their line.

Joe Ostman, Central Michigan, 6-foot-3, 259 pounds

Though he is currently only projected to go very late or be undrafted, I have a feeling Ostman could climb up as high as the mid rounds come draft time. He is not an elite athlete, but he looks at least decent in that regard and was extremely productive over a five-year career at CMU. He had a career year in 2017, posting 13.0 sacks with 3 forced fumbles.

Kentavius Street, North Carolina State, 6-foot-2, 278 pounds

Street’s 2017 season was a bit of a letdown, with his linemate Bradley Chubb getting all of the buzz, but he is expected to be an elite-level athlete. Street reportedly ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, while weighing in at 283 pounds this summer, and if that isn’t worth at least looking into with the Lions’ final pick, then I don’t know what is.

Defensive Tackles

As much as the Lions need help on the outside, they need just as much on the interior. There’s some worth checking out at the Shrine game, including a favorite of yours truly.

Poona Ford, Texas, 5-foot-11, 303 pounds

Yes, I’m a metrics guy, and yes, I understand how looking at a DT under six feet tall could be a problem. Poona Ford is an exciting watch, however, and he’s a guy I’m hoping the Lions pay close attention to. Ford is still projected to go fairly high in the draft, projecting in the late second and early third round, but I suspect much like Grady Jarrett, his size will push him further down boards than he ought to. Also like Jarrett, I feel like someone is going to nab him and get one of the best value picks in the draft.

James Looney, California, 6-foot-2, 280 pounds

Looney is projected to go very late in the draft and like ford before him, he is considered undersized. I don’t think his ceiling is quite as high as Ford, nor do I think he’d have quite the immediate impact, but he’d also be going a lot later in the draft so the value would be alright. I know I’m pointing to two undersized tackles, but with the Lions needing an interior pass rusher over a run stuffer, there’s no reason to look at the big heavies for me.

Secondary

The Lions only have a few picks to work with and their secondary is presently the strength of the defense. It’s less likely they are going to take an early pick on a secondary player, but here are some they may be watching at the Shrine game.

Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech, 6-foot-2, 197 pounds

Facyson’s draft stock is all over the map with some considering him a first-round pick and others thinking he’s not draftable at all. With good size and length, he may be a guy the Lions look at to fortify their cornerback position if they allow both Nevin Lawson and DJ Hayden to walk in free agency.

Afolabi Laguda, Colorado, 6-foot, 205 pounds

I’m going to get this right out the gate, I don’t think Laguda is a draftable prospect. He’s a good, hard-hitting strong safety type but his inability to process coverage assignments isn’t going to be a good thing for NFL squads early. That said, he looks like a solid athlete and I suspect he’ll measure fairly well and get a shot in camp as a special teamer. We all know how much Bob Quinn favors special teams ability, so this will be his chance to showcase those abilities and lay some hits to impress scouts.

Chucky Williams, Louisville, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

According to Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report, Chucky Williams met with the Lions after practice for the Shrine game. Another unrated prospect who will probably go undrafted, Williams showed good tackling ability and passable ball skills for the Cardinals. His tackling technique is strong, but he’s probably going to be depth with a learning curve in Detroit.