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East-West Shrine Bowl preview: 11 prospects the Lions should consider

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Keep a close eye on these 11 players Saturday afternoon.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Utah v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

With the regular season completed, the draft season is already in full swing and we’re rushing headlong into the all star games. This will culminate in the Senior Bowl, but it also includes the East-West Shrine Bowl and NFLPA Bowl, among other smaller bowl games that showcase diverse sets of talents.

We kicked off our coverage with the Senior Bowl, but we’re going to hit on some of the prospects from the other bowl games as well, because there’s always players who rise and fall based on their performances during the week up to and including the game.

So here are 11 prospects the Detroit Lions should seriously consider in this week’s East-West Shrine Bowl, which will be played on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, live on NFL Network.

Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah

When Matthew Stafford went down with injury, the Lions got to take a look at two very different quarterbacks in Jeff Driskel and David Blough. Blough is a game manager who essentially just ran the offense as best as he could while trying not to throw the game away (with mixed success), while Jeff Driskel’s athletic ability was on display from the very first snap... as was the riskiness of his style of play. Jeff Driskel is a free agent and may not return, so it makes sense to bring in someone with a similar skillset to offer more options in training camp and let the team choose between two options again. Huntley’s arm is fine, but his blend of athleticism and fearlessness despite a sometimes-porous offensive line is what really got me intrigued.

LeVante Bellamy, RB, Western Michigan

Do you like speed? LeVante Bellamy ran an officially recorded 4.34 in 2015 coming out of high school before landing with Western Michigan and having a productive college career. Bellamy has gained at least 20 pounds since running that 4.34 but doesn’t seem to have lost even a fraction of that speed. At 190 pounds now, he’s still a bit on the slender side and there’s always going to be concern for durability there, but he’s played in 26 games over the past two years. Over that span he put up over 2,700 yards on the ground, with 23 touchdowns in 2019 alone. A burner with home run potential is always worth watching in these games.

Mason Kinsey, WR, Berry

Every year there is a small school, small receiver who gets some big hype during the all star games and this year it looks to be Berry’s Mason Kinsey. At 5-foot-10 and just shy of 200 pounds, Kinsey is big enough to hold up at the NFL level, but showed off elite quickness during Shrine practices. His route running ability wasn’t as noticeable in the one poor-quality game tape I was able to watch, but he has been one of the most talked about players of practices during the week.

Ben Ellefson, TE, North Dakota State

This isn’t the strongest draft class for tight ends, and the Detroit Lions don’t have a glaring need at the position. Still, Ellefson has been turning heads during practices this week and he possesses a fine blend of size, athleticism, and blocking ability. He could provide a push to the disappointing free agent signing of Jesse James or Isaac Nauta, who was signed off the practice squad late in the year but didn’t provide much of a spark at the position.

Matt Womack, OT, Alabama

The Detroit Lions have favored offensive lineman with the ability to play multiple positions, and you’re going to get exactly that with Matt Womack. Injuries have hampered his college career somewhat, and I’m not convinced that isn’t going to continue to be a problem going forward. As such, I wouldn’t project him as a starter, but expect him to get some looks as a swing lineman due to his versatility along the line.

Michael Onwenu, OG, Michigan

Onwenu has been described as the best OL for either team during practices, but he’s easily the biggest at over 360 pounds. I’m not sure Onwenu has the athletic ability to play in a scheme like what Darrell Bevell runs, but if you’re looking for someone to create a wall or knock some lineman around you will find few better. Not at his best on the move, I’m interested to see what his coaches do with him during the Shrine game to showcase his talents.

Khalil Davis, DT, Nebraska

One of the best players on either roster, in my opinion, Davis could hear his name called early Day 3, and the Lions should be one of the teams rating him higher than most. Davis thrived in a system that occasionally overused the three-man rush (sound familiar?), notching 8.0 sacks despite that. I’m all over the place with rating the guy, but the positives I’ve seen alone are enough to make him a worthwhile watch this week.

Kendall Coleman, DE/OLB, Syracuse

Coleman didn’t rack up the stats like you’d expect a speed rusher to, only getting to the quarterback four times in 2019, but he brings to the table something that was sorely lacking from the Lions defense in 2019. Coleman’s burst and speed off the edge would put him immediately in the mix for some snaps with Devon Kennard and 2019 fourth-round pick Austin Bryant. Coleman is going to need to really work on his functional strength to have any hope of becoming a starter, but being able to get past offensive tackles on speed and agility alone is a good jumping off point for an NFL career.

Casey Toohill, OLB, Stanford

The concept of drafting a player who will hold his assignment and do his job isn’t new or exclusive to the Lions, but it has been lacking in Detroit for some time. Jahlani Tavai was the highest graded linebacker on the team as a rookie and it wasn’t because he was some ridiculous playmaker, it was just because he was rarely out of place nor did he make many mistakes.

Casey Toohill is a similar player in that regard and at 247 pounds, he clears the Lions’ general size thresholds. I don’t expect Toohill to go early in the draft nor do I expect him to be a Day 1 starter, but he’s a guy you can count on to do his bit when you need him.

Keith Washington, CB, West Virginia

At about 6-foot-2 but under 180 pounds, Washington is a bit slender for what you’d like and is thus more likely to spend his rookie campaign beefing up and bracing himself for the type of contact he’ll be experiencing daily in the NFL. Washington has been one of the more popular secondary players at Shrine practices. He has a good blend of size and technique but is likely a year or two away from seeing any significant NFL snaps. With a defensive backs coach recently hired to be the defensive coordinator in Detroit, I think he could be a late-round developmental target similar to how the Lions viewed Chris Greenwood in years past.

David Dowell, FS, Michigan State

Many of the players I’ve covered have been four or five-year starters and David Dowell is no different. A local prospect, I expect the Lions to meet with Dowell several times throughout the draft process, but I also expect Dowell to go undrafted in 2020. Lacking in both athleticism and ball skills, traits the Lions have placed a premium on recently in their secondary, Dowell is still a player to keep an eye on because there’s a good chance he ends up in training camp. Since he’s a big guy with length, he’s the type of player I think the team might be looking at trying to develop on the practice squad similar to C.J. Moore in 2019.