Each Saturday during the college football season, we’ll highlight five prospects with locally televised matchups who could be a fit for the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft, based on projected needs.
Every week, the list will aim to highlight early, mid- and late-round prospects. This will give you a chance to watch the players performing live, instead of playing catchup in the weeks before the draft.
DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas (No. 0)
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Texas, noon, ABC
Ok, first things first, you can’t convince me this isn’t one of the best names in college football. And he wears No. 0? Overshown oozes cool before you even flip on the tape.
As a prospect, Overshown has some unique attributes, starting with his size. You simply don’t see too many linebackers measuring in at 6-foot-4. Converted from safety a year ago, he carries over the hard-hitting attitude from his previous position, while bringing a unique ranginess to the second level of a defense.
He’s also been a highly effective blitzer, showcasing the burst to blast through the interior gaps when asked to pressure the passer.
Overall, the production is tough to ignore. Through five games this season he’s already racked up 44 tackles. That’s after stuffing the stat sheet a year ago with 66 stops, seven pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 10 games last year.
Where Overshown is still developing is building up the strength to beat blocks in run support. Listed at 223 pounds, a weight more befitting his previous position, he’ll need to continue to add mass and functional strength to be a three-down player at the next level.
Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas (No. 1)
No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Ole Miss, noon, ESPN
Don’t be fooled by the 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame, Catalon is an absolute thumper in the middle of the field. With outstanding coverage range, he’s just as likely to breakup a pass with his shoulder as he is with his hands.
A playmaker, he’s also done a good job generating turnovers for the Razorbacks, intercepting three passes and forcing two fumbles in 15 games across the past two seasons.
With experience playing in a split-safety scheme, there’s a strong possibility Catalon could quickly carve out a role in Detroit’s defense. Heck, with Tracy Walker and Dean Marlowe on expiring deals, a starting job out the gate isn’t out of the question. The Lions could certainly use a tone-setter like Catalon in the back end.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn (No. 23)
No. 2 Georgia at No. 18 Auburn, 3:30, CBS
Among the things we’ve been reminded of watching the Lions through the early part of the season is you can never have enough cornerback depth. Three weeks into the campaign, the team has been forced to start a second-year player who transitioned from safety halfway through training camp, and the next man up on the depth chart is an undrafted rookie.
A playmaker on the outside, McCreary has netted five interceptions in his past 15 games, including two this season. He made the decision to return to school to finish his degree, but he’s also getting the benefit of expanding his skill set in a new defensive scheme, which has him going from playing primarily press coverage to more off-man concepts.
With McCreary, the Lions might be able to scoop him up in the later stages of the draft’s second day to fortify their cornerback depth.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (No. 5)
No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa, 4 p.m., FS1
The Lions’ receivers finally showed some signs of life in last weekend’s game against Chicago, but that doesn’t alter the team’s long-term need for playmakers on the outside.
Dotson, a former high school track star, has the potential to be a better version of what Kalif Raymond currently provides Detroit’s offense. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Penn State star has the ability to provide big plays both as a deep threat or taking a short pass in space and doing damage after the catch.
Dotson exhibits good spatial awareness and body control, which allow him to consistently make contested catches. Additionally, the resume includes return ability if his next employer is inclined to utilize him on special teams. Fielding 20 punts for the Nittany Lions, he’s averaged 15.3 yards, including a touchdown against Michigan State last year.
In 14 games across the past two seasons, Dotson has caught 87 passes for 1,330 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s scored at least one touchdown in all five of Penn State’s games this season.
Drake Jackson, Edge, USC (No. 99)
Utah at USC, 8 p.m., FOX
Despite being the lone Patriots holdover on the roster, Trey Flowers was selected as a captain by his teammates this offseason. His leadership, work ethic and commitment to his craft are all worthy of praise, but he’s probably not long for this roster.
Flowers is due a $23.2 million cap hit in 2022. He’s unquestionably a fine player, one who defends the run well and consistently affects the passer, but it’s tough to justify paying top dollar for an edge defender who has never had more than 7.5 sacks in a season, and one who has struggled to stay on the field the past calendar year.
Assuming the Lions move on after the season, it would clear nearly $10.4 million of cap space off the books.
But a departure would also create the need for a replacement, something more than a supplemental piece to a group under contract that consists of the Okwara brothers and Austin Bryant. Only Romeo Okwara is a proven commodity from that trio and he’ll be working his way back from an Achilles injury in 2022.
Jackson is one of the more high-profile prospects who figure to be available in this class. Right now, he’s more potential than production. He’s coming off a COVID-19 shortened season were he tallied just 2.0 sacks in six games. The positive there is he’s already topped that total this year, with 3.0 in five games.
What makes the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Jackson so intriguing is his athleticism and flexibility. A good position coach should be able to work with his explosive first step and flexibility/bend coming off the edge.
Counter rush moves and strength are going to need to be developed. The latter is particularly important if he wants to be a three down option capable of doing his job in run support.