This Saturday’s NFL Draft watch list of college football (October 29) features a handful of solid quarterback scouting opportunities, four trench players, and two defensive backs, including one of the best corners in college football, Georgia’s Kelee Ringo.
If you missed any of our previous Detroit Lions draft watch installments, you can revisit them here:
- Top 25 quarterbacks to watch in 2022
- September 10: Kentucky QB Will Levis, Florida QB Anthony Richardson, Baylor NT Siaki Ika
- September 17: Georgia DT Jalen Carter, SCar DT Zacch Pickens, USC WR Jordan Addison
- September 24: Clemson EDGE Myles Murphy, Florida DT Gervon Dexter, TAMU RB Devon Achane
- October 1: Michigan RB Blake Corum, Iowa LB Jack Campbell, Alabama safeties
- October 8: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson, Utah CB Clark Phillips, TAMU S Antonio Anderson
- October 15: Tennessee QB Henson Hooker, PSU CB Joey Porter, Michigan NT Mazi Smith
- October 22: Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez, LB Noah Sewell, Clemson DT Bryan Bresee
- C.J. Stroud (Ohio State, 2) at Penn State at 12:00 p.m. ET on FOX
- Tyler Van Dyke (Miami) at Brennan Armstrong (Virginia) 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Anthony Richardson (Florida) at Georgia at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
- Sam Hartman (Wake Forest, 10) at Malik Cunningham (Louisville) at 3:30 p.m. ET on ACCN
- Will Levis (Kentucky, 19) at Hendon Hooker (Tennessee, 3) at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Tanner McKee (Stanford) at Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA, 12) at 10:30 on ESPN
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (senior)
6-foot-4, 230 pounds
There are a lot of great games to scout this week for fans looking at potential quarterbacks in the 2022 draft class. Stroud and Richardson will have tough tests on the road, while other draftable prospects are facing off head-to-head.
The crown jewel of quarterback play this weekend is Kentucky at Tennessee, where Levis and Hooker are looking to solidify themselves near the top of the draft class. I have profiled both in previous weeks (you can find those reports in the above links). This is a “show me” game for Levis, who most consider the third-best quarterback draft prospect.
Here’s an excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler on why this is a pivotal game for Levis:
Tennessee is a legitimate playoff contender, but the Vols’ defense ranks 102nd in the country (420.6 yards allowed per game). Neyland Stadium is a tough place to play, though, and this presents a substantial test for Levis, who will have to keep pace with a Hendon Hooker-led Tennessee offense that is averaging 50.1 points per game. Coming out of a bye week, Levis is now off the injury report and NFL scouts want to see him show out.
Alright, let’s get to this week’s non-quarterbacks that Lions fans should be paying attention to.
Ohio State (2) at Penn State (13) at 12:00 p.m. ET on FOX
Ohio State is an interesting school to scout in 2022. They are always flush with talent, but with regards to the Lions, many of their top guys are at spots Detroit has already invested in or are underclassmen. Their top draft-eligible players are quarterback C.J. Stroud (who will be profiled at length later in the season), likely first-round receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and offensive tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones. But there is one defender that may interest the Lions on Day 2.
Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State (senior)
6-foot-6, 266 pounds, 36-inch arm length
Harrison has freakish size-length-strength-speed intangibles, but the former five-star has spent most of his career trying to connect his physical potential with production. Things have started to click as a senior, and he was a monster last week when the Buckeyes smashed Iowa, registering a sack, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
Lions fit: Regardless of the fact that the Lions just drafted two top-50 edge rushers last season (Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal) you need depth in the NFL in order to sustain impactfulness. Harrison has the frame and strength to play the closed end role in the Lions scheme, but also has enough athleticism to take snaps on the open end.
An excerpt from The Athletic Dane Brugler pre-season top-50:
“With his impressive physical profile, Harrison looks like he was built in a lab. At 6-foot-6 and 266 pounds, he has almost 36-inch arms, a humongous wingspan (86 1/2 inches) and legit 4.5 speed. Harrison doesn’t play with a natural feel for the edge position and needs to show development as a senior to be drafted this high, but those rare traits will be enticing for NFL teams.”
#OhioState DE Zach Harrison is 6-6 and 266 pounds with 35 3/4” arms and 4.5 speed. Those freaky traits alone lead to disruption.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 24, 2022
Had 5 pressures on only 9 pass rush snaps vs. Iowa, including this strip sack. pic.twitter.com/QQ6FxHzBL6
When he lines up on the right edge, he’ll square off with projected top-50 pick left tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu, which should be a stellar matchup. This is the third week in a row I have profiled a Penn State player, including corner Joey Porter and NT PJ Mustipher.
Ji’Ayir “Tig” Brown, FS, Penn State (senior)
5-foot-11, 210 pounds
A Day 3 ball-hawking safety who delivers in run support, Brown could be a nice depth option who contributes in multiple areas. In 2021, he led college football with six interceptions, and this season he already has three on the year.
Lions fit: The Lions look like they have their starting safeties of the future in Tracy Walker and Kerby Joseph, but the team needs depth, especially with Walker’s status uncertain as he is currently recovering from Achilles surgery. Brown could instantly compete for a third safety role, while also contributing on special teams.
An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs profile of Brown:
“Ji’Ayir Brown is one of the better ball-skills safeties in the country—he was tied for the lead in FBS last season with six and has made several big plays already in 2022... Brown is a thick and physical player who offers the necessary physicality to help fit the run as well. When you factor in his special teams skill set as a former returner and kick coverage player, Brown offers a slew of different values to teams and should have little issue competing for a role for any NFL team.”
Tremendous range on this play by #PSU Safety Ji'Ayir Brown. He’s had a fantastic season playing opposite of Jaquan Brisker and now up to five interceptions on the season.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) January 1, 2022
Writing his name down for next season, he’ll be an interesting study this summer. pic.twitter.com/l4y3ZaCi04
Florida vs Georgia (1) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has loads of talent but he has had a bit of an up-and-down season. This game represents his biggest test of the season, and he’ll be facing one of the top cornerback prospects in the nation.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (redshirt sophomore)
6-foot-2, 210 pounds
If you’re team “draft a corner in the first round,” you’re going to love Ringo. If you don’t like the idea of spending another high pick on an off-the-ball player, you can skip to the next player.
A check-the-boxes physical specimen, Ringo has the size, speed, and physicality to be a CB1 in the NFL. He started on Georgia’s loaded National Championship 2022 team as a redshirt freshman, simply because he is too good to keep off the field. There are still aspects of his game that need polish—which comes with the territory of being so young—but it’s also an indicator of his incredibly high ceiling.
Lions fit: Imagine if the Lions had a 6-foot-2 cover corner that is also one of the best run defenders in football playing across from Jeff Okudah.
An excerpt from CBS Sports Josh Edwards profile of Ringo:
“Ringo is a height, weight and speed dream for NFL coaching. He displays easy speed to stay in-phase up the boundary. The Washington native has been exposed to a mixture of man and zone coverage. As a high-waisted individual, it can sometimes lead to slower transition across the field. Ringo is willing to play downhill and make plays in the backfield. The physical traits to be a man cover cornerback in the NFL are present.”
When Kelee Ringo called game @GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/eFfJIlgFUr— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 12, 2022
O’Cyrus Torrence, RG, Florida (senior)
6-foot-5, 347 pounds
Torrence spent the first three years in college road grading at Louisiana, but when coach Billy Napier accepted the head job at Florida, the massive right guard followed him to The Swamp. With power for days, Torrence easily earned the starting job as a true freshman and currently has over 40 starts under his belt, with half a season left to go.
Lions fit: With Halapoulivaati Vaitai almost certainly done for the season due to back surgery, the Lions have had a rotating door at right guard and it’s a clear weakness on an otherwise dominating group. With his contract bloating in 2023, there’s a chance he won’t return, even if healthy, and they could use a plug-and-play player like Torrence who can immediately step in at right guard and anchor their gap running scheme.
An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Torrence:
“O’Cyrus Torrence is a wide-bodied interior offensive lineman that likes to combine his weight with his quick first step to generate power at the line of scrimmage. On run plays, Torrence does a good job of coming off the ball and sticking to defenders to sustain the block and try to reset the line of scrimmage. A big reason for his effectiveness is his effort. The other is competitiveness.”
An excerpt from Brugler’s preseason Top-50:
“Torrence has the type of punch you can hear on tape. His hand exchange and striking technique aren’t always textbook, but he flashes violence at contact with the ability to steer or surge his man.”
How would #Florida RG O’Cyrus Torrence #54 look after transferring from the Sun Belt to the SEC?— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 16, 2022
Like a player who wants to be a 1st round pick.
10 transfer prospects boosting their NFL Draft grades at their new home: https://t.co/wpqAlEEx6y pic.twitter.com/ewrl9BrDoM
Michigan State at Michigan (4) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC
The battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy!
Jacob Slade, DT, Michigan State (senior)
6-foot-4, 315 pounds
Slade has missed most of the season due to an injury suffered in Week 2, but he returned ahead of the Spartans' bye last week. A three-year starter, he is a stud against the run but he’ll need to add some core strength if he wants to be more than a rotational player in the NFL.
Lions fit: The Lions love high-effort players who can stop the run and Slade checks both of those boxes with authority. Defensive tackle has been a problem position all season for Detroit and they may need to overhaul the position.
An excerpt from Nick Baumgardner:
“Michigan State defensive tackle Jacob Slade is a terrific football player, a legit pocket pusher, an NFL prospect, one of the better interior players in the Big Ten.”
An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Slade:
“Jacob Slade’s ability to make plays along the Michigan State defensive line is attributed to his high motor and effort. As a run defender, Slade does a good job of chasing down plays backside to make the tackle on ball carriers. Slade also does a good job of twists and stunts to get penetration into the backfield and be disruptive. In the passing game, Slade makes his impact in how he consistently works to get to the quarterback. Slade gives max effort on every play and will get to the quarterback by retracing his rush back to the quarterback.”
Jacob Slade is a PROBLEM— StandingRoomSpartans (@StandingRoomMSU) January 7, 2022
Keep an eye on #64, man was wrecking backfields all season pic.twitter.com/CaBv44pHRL
Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan (senior)
6-foot-3, 310 pounds
Oluwatimi began his career at Virginia where he was a Rimington finalist (best center in college football) in 2021 and transferred to Michigan this past summer. He immediately won the starting job at center and has continued to level up his draft stock. Oluwatimi was recently named to The Athletic’s First-team All-American mid-season team, along with running back Blake Corum and nose tackle Mazi Smith—who were both previously profiled in this series.
Lions fit: Highly intelligent and athletic, the Lions love to draft interior offensive linemen capable of playing center—though Oluwatimi would surely be pegged for the Lions potentially vacant starting right guard spot if drafted.
An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Damian Parson’s profile of Oluwatimi:
“The Virginia transfer Olusegun Oluwatimi has a ton of experience and reliability. In three seasons, he has played 2,552 snaps at center. Oluwatimi plays with a good base, allowing him to maintain good balance during his reps. Oluwatimi properly passes and picks up twists/stunts, showcasing his lateral agility. I love his ability to act as a bumper—he is always looking for work. He showcased the functional athleticism to climb to the upper levels and get hands on LBs in addition to being able to snap and get out as a puller/lead blocker in space.”
Watch No. 55 at center pull out right and seal the running lane:
Penn State had the lead for 2 minutes.— Due# (@JDue51) October 16, 2022
After JJ scrambled for a 1st down, we run the pin & pull to the boundary with Zak Zinter and Olusegun Oluwatimi paving a massive alleyway.
Donovan Edward sprints 67 yards untouched to pay dirt. pic.twitter.com/BrPPQc99wV