If you’re reading this article, then that means you’re probably going to be watching college football today. And since you’re already here, you might as well do what I say and get to know these five prospects that the Detroit Lions could target in next year’s draft.
OT, Andrew Thomas, Georgia (Junior)
It’s too early to say how the offensive tackle class will look, or how many first-round talents there will be, but early indications are that there are at least two very good talents that are already making their way up to the top of boards. Andrew Thomas is one of those guys.
Thomas has springy footwork and is rarely beaten by speed rushers. He anchors extremely well in pass protection to give his quarterback a clean pocket from the blind side, and what impresses me the most is the raw power in his hands.
Georgia's LT, Andrew Thomas, is very mean. pic.twitter.com/FyULautmZD— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) September 13, 2019
The Lions are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to their offensive tackle situation. Neither starter has performed up to their expectations. Taylor Decker is coming off of arguably his worst performance as a Lion in Week 1, though his current back injury could have a lot to do with that. Rick Wagner hasn’t been much better, and the way his contract looks, it’s possible that the Lions could also part ways with their right tackle at the end of the year.
The Lions are desperate for availability, talent and depth along the offensive line, and I’m betting the priority is going to be upgrading the tackle spots heading into the offseason.
To get a head start on this year’s tackle class, you can watch left tackle Andrew Thomas annihilate pass rushers at 12 p.m. EST as Georgia takes on Arkansas State on ESPN2.
EDGE, Kenny Willekes, Michigan State (RS Senior)
The Spartans face off against Arizona State at 4 p.m. ET on FOX and will be showcasing one of the best defenses in the country, led by Kenny Willekes.
Willekes will get a lot of love for being an in-state prospect, but he has a lot of talent to back it up. He’s likely not going to put elite numbers on the board during the NFL Combine, but he is a technically savvy pass rusher that knows how to use his hands and get to the quarterback habitually.
Kenny Willekes had one impressive season rushing the passer pic.twitter.com/PgbVReHMhR— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 14, 2018
Willekes’ dominance as both a pass rusher and run defender makes him a likely target for the Lions. He fits well in Romeo Okwara’s role as a RDE/REO as long as he keeps his weight up and could potentially be great value if he falls into the second or third round.
DL, Raequan Williams, Michigan State (RS Senior)
A lot of likable stuff on film for Michigan State DT 99 Raequan Williams. Long and quick fit the NFL mold en vogue, and he brings plus power and a GREAT motor.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) July 10, 2019
Entire Michigan State DL is draftable next year, and he might be the best of the bunch. pic.twitter.com/PU4geLDjwS
Adjacent to Kenny Willekes is Raequan Williams, who is also getting some early national recognition for his efforts. Williams doesn’t have the technical skill set of Willekes as a defensive lineman, but he is naturally quick and explosive off the snap and has been very active in the backfield throughout his collegiate career.
Williams’ two best traits represent the overall identity of what head coach Mark Dantonio is constantly looking for with his defense: power and motor. Williams is relentless with his attack even when his initial move is stymied. The rest of the line shares that same mentality.
RB, Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (Junior)
The Lions’ front office still seems to be dead set on adding versatile running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield. If that carries into the offseason, then they may give Eno Benjamin a serious look.
Benjamin had over 1,900 yards from scrimmage last year with 35 receptions and 18 total touchdowns. He’s already notched a couple of receiving touchdowns in 2019 and is averaging 8.6 yards per catch through his career.
This is about as tough of a test that Benjamin will see all year. He’ll be facing arguably the best run defense in the country, and the Spartans will be ready to sniff out any screen passes Arizona State throws at them, too.
WR, Jalen Reagor, TCU (Junior)
TCU vs. Purdue is an under-the-radar matchup that features two of the most talented wide receivers in the country (7:30 p.m. ET on BTN).
This year’s wide receiver class is littered with talent, and the Lions could be in the market for another wide receiver by the time next April rolls around. I still believe that the offense is missing some speed and someone that can provide some yards after the catch.
Reagor is as electric as they come and would be a perfect slot option for the Lions if they choose to move on from Amendola and/or need someone that can blow the top off of a defense.
Though Reagor is undeniably one of the nation’s most dynamic offensive talents, he may be overshadowed by Purdue’s Rondale Moore—also a receiver, but not draft eligible for 2020. Moore led the Big 10 in just about every category you can think of for a WR last year. This should be a fun one.