It’s uncommon to see truly elite prospects at the Senior Bowl, which is why the Detroit Lions were probably stoked to see two premier players at their biggest positions of need — Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson and Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon — initially committed to the roster.
But without much to gain from the week-long event, both players pulled out, so the Lions will have to look a little harder to find the top-round talent in Mobile, Alabama next week. They own picks No. 6, 18, 49 and 56, and they can take solace in knowing there are still plenty of Senior Bowl participants projected to go in that range.
Let’s take a look at a few who would also fill Detroit’s positional needs.
▶ Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
At the defensive tackle position, there’s Georgia’s Jalen Carter, there’s Clemson’s Bryan Bresee, and then there’s everyone else.
If the Lions either miss/opt out of drafting one of them (Carter could go as high as No. 1 and Bresee currently is likely to go top-10), Ika is a pretty exciting prospect. At 6-foot-4, 358 pounds, his power on the interior makes him an instant fit for what the Lions need.
He’s also a top participant to watch because of where he currently ranks relative to the Lions’ picks. His consensus ranking is somewhere in the 30s, but a strong pre-draft starting in Mobile could put him on a trajectory to be in play for the Lions at No. 18. Conversely, if his stock drops over the next few months, Detroit could find that he falls into their lap at pick No. 49.
▶ Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
After getting historic rookie production from the position last season, drafting an edge rusher probably isn’t priority No. 1 for the Lions in this year’s draft. On the other hand, the defensive line and linebacking corps as a whole still leave a lot to be desired, so the team also isn’t in a position to balk at the idea of continuing to spend capital on high-end EDGE talent.
But most importantly, the Lions love quick, versatile athletes and Foskey is just that. He departed Notre Dame as the program’s all-time leader in sacks (26.5) and took a majority of his snaps at outside linebacker, where injuries left Detroit particularly lacking at times in 2022.
▶ Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (Florida)
You can almost be certain that Stevenson will be on the Lions’ short list heading into the Senior Bowl. He’s 6-feet, 214 pounds and can dominate receivers physically.
He’s currently projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick — and is ESPN’s No. 13 corner — but, as one of the more highly touted cornerbacks heading to Mobile, has potential to fly up the board if he stands out.
▶ Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama
To’oTo’o was a highly prized recruit coming out of high school, and after stints at both Tennessee and Alabama, you’d be hard pressed to find a college football fan who doesn’t at least recognize the name.
But will he make a good pro? That’s certainly a harder question to answer than one would think, with inconsistency and competitive drive marking two of the red flags surrounding this player. Fortunately for him, he has the chance to change minds, and there’s no better setting to begin that process than the Senior Bowl. To’oTo’o is projected as a second-rounder, but is poised to face some volatility over the coming weeks and months.
▶ O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
It’s a widely held belief that the Lions will target two defensive players with their first-round picks — so long as they don’t draft a quarterback — which means Torrence, the draft’s consensus top interior lineman and a projected first-round pick, will likely be out of play for Detroit.
And yet, would it really be that big of a surprise if Holmes and Co. spent another high pick to continue stacking talent in the trenches? Shaky guard play in the absence of Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the only stain on an otherwise spotless season for the team’s strongest unit. It’s a clear position of need — but is it a big enough need to pull the trigger on one 18?
▶ Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
If the Lions are targeting an off-ball linebacker in this draft, it’ll likely be from the second pick and beyond. That makes Henley an interesting name to watch next week.
He’s seen as more of a project, and some of what you might see from his week at the Senior Bowl will probably indicate that, but ESPN’s No. 5 ILB prospect is also explosive and athletic, which is sure to shine through in a week of light practices.
▶ Andrew Vorhees, OG, USC
Vorhees is probably a more appropriate guard target for the Lions’ draft spots. On ESPN’s big board, he has an overall rank of 127. On PFF’s, he’s 41. As it stands, it feels like he’s just as likely to go top-50 as he is not to, but he’s undoubtedly a sexy name for the Lions in second-round mock drafts (ones that didn’t automatically pencil in Noah Sewell, anyway).
There’s clearly lots of discussion to be had about where he actually belongs, but his stay in Mobile should help sort that out. He’ll be the second-best guard prospect in attendance and will garner plenty of attention.
▶ Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State (6-6, 250 lbs)
The Lions could swing on a top tight end after trading T.J. Hockenson mid-season, as it’s at the very least their second-most position of need on offense heading into free agency.
Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is likely a better fit for their mid-second-round draft position, and he far outshined Musgrave as a receiver over their college careers, but Musgrave generally out-ranks him because he’s more of a complete package.
Still, Musgrave totaled just 633 yards on 47 catches over four seasons, and had his senior year cut short by injury. The pre-draft process, including his week at the Senior Bowl, could alter his stock a lot — for better or worse.