clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Detroit Lions 2023 draft watch: 7 prospects, including Arkansas LB Drew Sanders

This Saturday’s Detroit Lions draft watch examines some of the team’s biggest projected offseason needs.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Liberty v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This Saturday’s NFL Draft watch list of college football (November 12) features seven prospects spread out over four games, one in each timeslot. Basically, you can put the first game on at noon and we’ll have a player for you to watch over the next 13+ hours of football.

If you missed any of our previous Detroit Lions draft watch installments, you can revisit them here:

QB Watch

  • Jayden Daniels (LSU, 7) at K.J. Jefferson (Arkansas) at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • C.J. Stroud (Ohio State, 2) vs. Conner Bazelak (Indiana) at 12 p.m. ET on FOX
  • Bryce Young (Alabama, 9) at Mississippi (11) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
  • Anthony Richardson (Florida) vs Spencer Rattler (South Carolina) at 4 p.m. ET on SECN
  • Tanner McKee (Stanford) at Cameron Rising (Utah, 13) 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Daniels unceremoniously exited Arizona State this past offseason, and while his career at LSU got off to a rocky start, coach Brian Kelly has unlocked the dual-threat quarterback’s potential. Fresh off an overtime victory over Alabama, Daniels will look to keep the good times rolling against Arkansas.

Jefferson (6-foot-3, 245, redshirt junior) doesn’t get a ton of love amongst the bigger draft entities, but he has a large following in the draft community that stans for him. Unfortunately, Jefferson is questionable for this game and may not play, but if he does, Daniels vs Jefferson figures to be the most entertaining matchup of quarterbacks prospects on Saturday.

Alright, let’s stick with this game as we jump into this week’s non-quarterbacks that Lions fans should be paying attention to.

LSU (7) at Arkansas at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas (junior)
6-foot-5, 232 pounds

Sanders opened his college career at Alabama and was used as an EDGE rusher. After transferring to Arkansas, the Razorbacks shifted him to a hybrid role, primarily as a stack backer with some pass rushing mixed in. As he is still new to the position, Sanders is still working through the learning curve but he looks like a Day 2 prospect based on his upside.

Lions fit: Sanders is basically taking the same path that Derrick Barnes did, and if he enters the NFL this season, he will have just one year of starting experience, which could drop his stock into the range the Lions would consider him. Currently, his projected role in the NFL would be very similar to Barnes.

An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs profile of Sanders:

“Sanders is implemented as a hybrid linebacker who can rush from the edge or play in stack alignments behind the defensive front. A true EDGE at Alabama, Sanders is uncovering new opportunities for himself as a member of the Razorback front. His hallmark physical traits include his physicality, good initial burst, and tackling skills. Sanders has starred as a weapon who has been charged with moving around the front, allowing him to slice through the front. Some of his other flashes come in shallow spaces to contain rush and convert into an attack role when the quarterback breaks contain to his area, including his rushes against Alabama. Sanders has some fluidity to his frame as well, offering optimism that he could indeed be a stack player at the NFL level and not just a college experiment for the Razorback defense.”

BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU (junior)
6-foot-3, 245 pounds

The brother of New York Giants pass-rushing specialist Azeez Ojulari, the younger brother offers elite first-step explosion and a high volume of pass-rushing moves in his toolbox. Ojulari may be a pass-rushing specialist in the NFL, which will lower his draft stock, but he can be an impact player in this role.

Lions fit: Ojulari is what the Lions want Julian Okwara to be, and with the oft-injured edge rusher entering the final year of his contract, the Lions could be in the market to add competition for the role. Plus, the Lions could certainly use player show can get after the quarterback.

An excerpt from PFF’s draft profile ($):

“Ojulari may never be your do-it-all run defender at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, but he’s got a full toolbox to attack opposing quarterbacks. And that’s all he’s done since arriving at LSU. In three years, he’s racked up 104 pressures, including 26 in only five games this season.”

Alabama (9) at Mississippi (11) at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi (junior)
6-foot-0, 215 pounds

If Evans enters this draft, he will be a top-five running back option. After starting his career at TCU, Evans transferred to Mississippi and coach Lane Kiffin immediately inserted him into the starting lineup. A North-South runner who can make the first tackler miss, Evans runs with power, vision, and smart decision-making.

Lions fit: The Lions need a young reliable option at running back to develop into the RB1 of the future. With D’Andre Swift unable to stay healthy and Jamaal Williams in a contract year, the Lions should be looking at backs who can carry the load.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s mid-season Top-50:

“Despite battling a few injuries this season, Zach Evans has been productive when on the field, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He has already scored a career-high seven touchdowns and 23.1 percent of his carries this season have gone for 10-plus yards, which ranks top three in the FBS.”

Javion Cohen, G, Alabama (junior)
6-foot-4, 305 pounds

After profiling six Alabama players in previous installments in this series, you’d think the prospects would start thinning out, but the Crimson Tide just keep rolling out talent. Cohen is a two-year starter at left guard and his game is based in power and athleticism.

Lions fit: The Lions could be in the market for a new guard this offseason and Cohen offers them an instant starter in their gap scheme.

An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Cohen:

“There are many things to like about Javion Cohen in that he appears to be a complete athlete, checking boxes for athleticism, strength, and IQ. Cohen’s strength shows up in both the run game and in pass protection. As a run blocker, he shows that he can sustain the line of scrimmage and even reset the line of scrimmage by moving defenders backward. In pass protection, his strength shows in that he can anchor on defenders and prevent them from collapsing the pocket. Cohen’s athleticism shows that he can effectively work to the second level under control to make effective blocks. Cohen’s IQ shows how good he is at identifying twists and stunts and picking them up effectively.”

TCU (4) at Texas (18) at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC

TCU’s Quinton Johnson might end up being the first wide receiver off the board in April, but since the Lions will not likely be in the market for another first-round receiver, I’m shifting the focus in this game to two players that will be head-to-head.

Kendre Miller, RB, TCU (junior)
6-foot-0, 220 pounds

With Evans now at Mississippi, Johnson became the unquestioned starter and is averaging 6.6 yards per rush, has already rushed for over 1,000 yards, and has 12 rushing touchdowns this season. With his size/speed combo, along with eye discipline and instincts to find the right gap quickly, Miller has the profile to eventually become a starter in the NFL.

Lions fit: Miller’s average athleticism could push him into Day 3, but his collective skill set should be appealing. For those of you who don’t believe in drafting a running back early, Miller’s name should be on your list.

An excerpt from The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez’s profile of Miller:

“Kendre Miller’s best traits are his vision and his instincts. From the handoff, Miller does a good job of scanning the offensive line to find any creases that quickly come available. Miller’s vision allows him to scan from the frontside to the backside of the play and get upfield. Instinctually, Miller has a great feel for how to manipulate second-level defenders to create holes. Miller does a good job of showing that he is going to attack one hole and then jump cutting to another gap vacated by a defender. Overall, Miller is a productive running back at TCU that appears to be scheme versatile because of his vision and instincts.”

DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas (senior)
6-foot-3 1/2, 224 pounds

I previewed Overshown last season, and then briefly mentioned him again earlier this season, but he remains one of my favorite players and deserves some more love. Long, fluid, fast, and aggressive, Overshown brings the wood with authority. As a former safety, he has natural instincts in coverage and explodes to the ball.

Lions fit: The Lions need linebackers who can cover and Overshown can do that and so much more. Additionally, his ability to contribute on special teams is a massive plus.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s mailbag:

“For Texas to slow down the Horned Frogs, Overshown will need to play a complete game. Though he can be inconsistent with his take-on and finishing, the Longhorns’ linebacker flies around the field like he was shot out of a cannon. Some scouts believe Overshown will be a Day 2 draft pick.”

Stanford at Utah (13) at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (senior)
6-foot-4, 240 pounds

Kincaid, a TE-F (pass catcher), entered the season as a tight end to watch, then he announced himself to the world against USC this season, finishing the game with 16 receptions on 16 targets for 234 yards and a touchdown. Yo.

Lions fit: The Lions have two tight ends with balanced skill sets on the roster but, after trading way T.J. Hockenson, they lack a player at the position capable of separating and making big-time catches.

An excerpt from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, just missed the top-50 article:

“As a blocker, Dalton Kincaid has been inconsistent this season. But NFL teams looking for an athletic pass catcher at tight end will love what he has to offer. Kincaid quickly enters his routes to create passing windows and shows outstanding focus and ball skills. His best trait might be how quickly he transitions from a receiver to a runner and picks up yards after the catch.”

NEW: Join Pride of Detroit Direct

Jeremy Reisman will drop into your inbox twice a week to provide exclusive, in-depth reporting and insights from Ford Field. Subscribe to go deeper into Lions fandom, and join us on our path to win the Super Bowl.