We’ve reached the point where we need to embrace the Lions’ official slogan of the past 53 years or so: “It’s never too early to start thinking about next year.”
The Lions’ season is over. At 4-8, they need to win out to have a chance at the playoffs and just happen to be going to Lambeau Field this Sunday, a place they haven’t won in since 1991.
This presents an odd paradox: you like meaningful football, but you like football with Lions players on it. That’s all gone, right? Well, kind of.
I can’t claim that bowls matter in the grand scheme of life or anything, but there are plenty of future Lions players taking the field throughout December and into January. Or I should say, there are plenty of cornerbacks out taking the field throughout December and into January who are ripe for replacing Jacob Lacey.
So sit back and enjoy bowl season with my handy guide. Every day of bowl season I present the best game to watch the best cornerback prospects of the draft.
(The numbers in parenthesis are ESPN’s Scouts Inc. rating of the player . You can read how Scouts Inc. does their rating by scrolling down to the bottom of their site, but it’s basically goes like this:
100-90: first-round pick, 89-80: second-round pick, 79-70: third-round pick, etc. Get below 50 and you’re looking at a borderline draft pick, possible undrafted free agent. )
December 15: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Toledo vs. Utah State
Utah State’s Will Davis (rated a 71 by Scouts Inc.) could be a late third-round, early fourth-round pick, which, of course, means if the Lions pick no other corners you can pencil in Davis at a starting spot by Week 3 of the season.
(SKIP) December 20: Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego State vs. BYU
Honestly, just skip this day and rest up for another one. If you’re crazed, or just have no friends you can take in the only game of the night to look at San Diego States’ Leon McFadden (44) who is a late-round pick, and BYU’s Preston Hadley (30) who most likely won’t be drafted and probably won’t be signed as a free agent.
(SKIP) December 21: Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl, South Florida vs. Ball State
The only game of the day. SKIP.
December 22: Las Vegas Bowl, Washington vs. Boise State
The draw here is Washington’s Desmond Trufant. The younger brother of Marcus Trufant, a first-round pick 2003 who was really good for about a year and a half, Desmond (80) is looking like a second or third rounder, depending on his combine performance. This presents just too options for the Lions and their draft strategy: take him entirely too high in the first round, or pass on him when he falls to the fourth.
(SKIP) December 24: Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State vs. SMU
Enjoy your Christmas Eve in peace. Nothing but scrubs in the secondary for the only game of the day.
(SKIP) December 26: Little Caesar’s Zombie Motor City Bowl, Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky
Enjoy your day after Christmas in peace. Nothing but scrubs in the secondary for the only game of the day.
December 27: Holiday Bowl, UCLA vs. Baylor
UCLA has a couple of prospects, one about twice as interesting as the other. Sheldon Price is a legitimate NFL prospect. Rated a 74 by Scouts Inc. look for him in the third round and get excited if he drops to the fourth. Aaron Hester (46) is a borderline prospect, but he’s a high borderline prospect. If he fits into the Lions system at cornerback, which at this point I assume is the old Get Hurt or Get Beat Deep strategy, don’t be surprised if he comes off the board late on Day 3 of the draft.
December 28: Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
If you don’t watch any of the early bowls, start by watching this one. Rutgers’ Logan Ryan (86) is the fourth best cornerback in the draft according to Scouts Inc. He’s also the third best corner playing in a bowl. Connecticut’s Blidi Wreh-wilson is at home after the Huskies went 5-7 this year. Yes. That is his name. And yes. That is how it is spelled.
He may slip in the first round but would be a nice pickup for the Lions in the second round as long as he doesn’t completely blow the combine or get arrested or something.
On second thought, based on Detroit’s recent draft history, an arrest would probably shoot him up the Lions draft board.
December 29: Alamo Bowl, Oregon State vs. Texas
While Michigan State’s Johnny Adams, likely a late-round pick, is also playing on this day, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer (76) is the only corner worth seeing on Dec. 29. He’ll “fight” with Utah State’s Davis, UCLA’s Price, possibly Washington’s Trufant, and a couple others to be the Lions’ third-round pick.
December 31: Music City Bowl, North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
By this time we’ve reached the point in the bowl season where more than one NFL cornerback is on the field. While there will be some talent in the other bowl games (Georgia Tech’s Rod Sweet, 75, and LSU’s Tharold Salmon, 66), they can’t stack up to NC State’s David Amerson (84). If the Lions somehow miss out on the top four corners, Amerson is their last hope to bring in somebody significant. He’s a legitimate second-round pick.
January 1: Gator Bowl, Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
While you wouldn’t be wrong to check out the Orange Bowl and Florida State’s duo of Xavier Rhodes (77) and Greg Reid (70), I wouldn’t be passing up the chance to check out the second-best cornerback in the draft in Johnthan Banks. Rated an 89, he technically has an early second-round grade, but it’s tough to see 31 out of 32 teams not taking a cornerback in the first round. I hope the Lions take him just so I can enjoy years of old people misspelling his name. It’s Johnthan people, not JohnAthon.
(SKIP) January 2: Sugar Bowl, Florida vs. Louisville.
Scrub corners. SKIP.
January 3: Fiesta Bowl, Kansas State vs. Oregon
It’s probably best to skip this one too. Kansas State’s Nigel Malone (54) could be a sixth or seventh rounder.
January 4: Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
See what I wrote for the Fiesta Bowl, but substitute Oklahoma’s Demontre Hurst (55) for Nigel Malone.
(SKIP) January 5: BBVA Compass Bowl, Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss
Why is this a thing? SKIP!
(SKIP) January 6: GoDaddy.com Bowl, Kent State vs. Arkansas State
Another thing that shouldn’t be a thing. SKIP!
January 7: BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
This is why you skipped all those days and all those games. You had to save yourself for this. There’s only one NFL-caliber cornerback in this game, but he is a 6-foot-1, 199-pound, receiver-covering, run-stuffing Secondary Savior.
His name is Dee Milliner, the best cornerback prospect of the year. Scouts Inc. ranks him a 94. He is No. 12 on the big board. Right now the Lions are one of four teams tied at 4-8, drafting between six and 10. There’s a good chance Milliner will be available.
That is, if he comes out. Secondary Savior is just a junior.