The 2019 Senior Bowl is Saturday, and while many view the week of practice as more important than the game itself, this remains an important part of the scouting process for many. Who can play when the world is watching and the pressure is on?
And for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to attend Senior Bowl practices, Saturday will provide us the opportunity to scout some of these players. So here are 10 players you should keep an eye on in regards to the Detroit Lions. For brevity’s sake, I focused on four positions in which I view are some of the biggest needs for the Lions: wide receiver, tight end, edge defender and cornerback.
Andy Isabella - UMass
Team North - #5
There’s little doubt that South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel stole the show during Senior Bowl practices, but for whatever reason Andy Isabella seemed to be the... Isabella of the ball (sorry) for the Lions media. It appears Isabella didn’t quite live up to the hype during this week of practice, but he has the potential to show he’s a gamer.
At 5-foot-8, 186 pounds, Isabella is an ideal slot candidate with an insane amount of college production. He’s fast and a crisp route runner, but there are concerns he could be physically dominated at the next level.
Terry McLaurin - Ohio State
Team North - #10
Reviewing Thursday’s practice tape and #OhioState WR Terry McLaurin picked up where he left off the day before.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 25, 2019
Impressive #SeniorBowl week for TM. pic.twitter.com/samismLDVp
Speaking of route-running, McLaurin has it in spades and was turning heads on a daily basis at the Senior Bowl. There may not be a prospect who helped out his draft stock more than McLaurin, whose production at Ohio State was underwhelming (best season: 701 yards... but 11 touchdowns).
The Lions receivers have struggled to get separation, so adding the fastest player at the Senior Bowl makes a lot of sense.
Jakobi Meyers - NC State
Team North - #11
If the Lions are looking for something else in a potential slot receiver—say strength and physical dominance—Jakobi Meyers may be their guy.
Jakobi Meyers has a knack for getting open. I think that’ll translate just at the next level. pic.twitter.com/Xhcjl2oWSk— Nick Faber (@NickFaberNFL) January 25, 2019
Don’t let his 6-foot-1, 196 pound frame fool you, Meyers is a refined route runner and brings some solid hands with him. If the Lions want to go the “Big Slot” route, Meyers could be their guy.
Foster Moreau - LSU
Team South - #18
Congratulations to our Reese’s Senior Bowl Offensive Practice Players of the Week:— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 25, 2019
QB:Jarrett Stidham @AuburnFootball
RB: Dexter Williams @NDFootball
WR: Deebo Samuel @GamecockFB
TE: Foster Moreau @LSUfootball
OL: Garrett Bradbury @PackFootball #seniorbowl
Chris Burke of The Athletic argues that aside from Samuel, Moreau may have been the best offensive player on the field during the week of Senior Bowl practices.
“He already had the reputation for being a physical blocker, which he proved, but he’d never had much chance to show off his receiving chops (52 career receptions for 629 yards and 6 TDs),” Burke wrote. “That changed this week.”
Former LSU TE Foster Moreau named one of Senior Bowl's Offensive Practice Players of the Week Nati: https://t.co/WgAt1Jm4Tx via— cartoon (@cartoon0007) January 25, 2019
Moreau could be a perfect fit for the Lions offense, which is looking to be more balanced. Moreau matches that balance, having above average skills in both run blocking and receiving skills.
Dax Raymond - Utah State
Team South - #87
TE Dax Raymond vs. DB Sheldrick Redwine— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 24, 2019
Advantage: Raymond pic.twitter.com/blLUMOK8Oo
You don’t often see tight ends burn defensive backs that badly, but Raymond brings the athleticism to be the receiving tight end the Lions offense has been missing since Eric Ebron’s departure.
If he continues to impress during Saturday’s game, we may be talking about Raymond as a second-round prospect.
Montez Sweat - Mississippi State
Team South - #9
Montez Sweat was one of the hottest names going into the Senior Bowl. His draft stock has already wildly fluctuated and it’s not even February yet. There are some concerns about his character after being suspended in 2016, but his 22.5 sacks over the past two seasons are going to be hard to pass up.
Sweat made plenty of “winners” or “standouts” lists from this week of practice, especially after measuring as a near prototypical edge defender (6-foot-6, 252 pounds). If he puts some character issues aside and continues to impress through April, he could be in the conversation for the Lions with the eighth overall pick.
Jaylon Ferguson - Louisiana Tech
Team South - #45
The all-time NCAA sack leader has had a fairly inconsistent week of practice. Ferguson entered the week with the most to prove, having seen most of his production come against inferior competition. He’s held his own but hasn’t exactly been the standout player many were hoping to see.
Anthony Nelson - Iowa
Team North - #93
Nelson made Alex Reno’s list of sleeper edge defenders that could fit well with the Lions, and Joe Marino of The Draft Network seems to agree. Marino listed Nelson as the “perfect Senior Bowl prospect” for the Lions.
“He has the lack and inside/outside pass rushing upside Matt Patricia prefers with a surprising amount of flexibility for a man of his stature,” Marino wrote.
Nelson, too, didn’t create a ton of buzz this week, but with a solid performance on Saturday, he could solidify his value as a Day 2 prospect.
Amani Oruwariye - Penn State
Team North - #21
Amani Oruwariye is quickly seeing his stock rise to the top of the cornerback charts. He’s got length. He’s got strength. He’s got ball skills. And they were all on display this week at the Senior Bowl.
Here’s what DetroitLions.com’s Tim Twentyman had to say about Oruwariye:
“He’s been good in seven-on-sevens, and made an interception in the drill Wednesday. He was really good in one-on-one drills Thursday. He’s been consistent all week.”
Rock Ya-Sin - Temple
Team South - #6
A mean trash talker and a guy that’s typically able to back it up, Rock Ya-Sin has not only made an impression as a potential No. 1 seed in this year’s Name Bracket, but as a physical corner that can match up with the best talent the Senior Bowl has to offer.
Great session for Rock Ya-Sin. He talked a ton of trash and backed it up pic.twitter.com/odQTIGonh8— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 24, 2019
The Draft Network’s Jon Ledyard called his performance this week “up-and-down,” but with a good performance in the game, Ya-Sin could prove he’s more than a name.