The Detroit Lions are beginning to consider their push toward the 2023 NFL draft, and as they do, the Senior Bowl is the next big watershed moment for the team.
Under Brad Holmes, the Lions have been able to find some difference makers on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Alim McNeill and safety Kerby Joseph are a pair of success stories from the game that the team has found in 2021 and 2022, and this year, there could be more on the menu.
With help needed on defense, the Lions need to be all-eyes to every single prospect that laces up the cleats in Mobile, Alabama. Some players, though, stand out as more important to watch for the team than others given their role as well as team need.
Here’s a look at the most significant defenders for the Lions to watch during this year’s Senior Bowl.
Byron Young, Defensive Line, Alabama
Alabama defenders are constantly some of the best in the NFL, with Nick Saban’s developmental pedigree paying dividends. Byron Young could be the next player in that line to show up in Mobile, Alabama.
In college, Young has managed to put up some fantastic numbers in a sold four-year career with the Crimson Tide. He has totaled 130 tackles, 20 of which have been for-loss. He has also piled up 7.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble in his career. The tape shows a very agile player up front:
Young is a player that many think the Lions should keep an eye on already, and with that in mind, he is one to watch this week for the team. It will be important to see if he can show intensity and versatility up front.
Darius Rush, Cornerback, South Carolina
Help at cornerback will be vital for the Lions to find this offseason, and while this year’s class might be boosted most by underclassmen, Darius Rush could be an intriguing senior to keep an eye on.
Already, Rush has received praise from the likes of PFF for showing out during practice sessions, and has been one of the fastest players on the field. That’s not surprising considering some of the numbers he ran up playing in the SEC over the last four years.
Rush has a total of 75 tackles, one sack, three interceptions and 15 passes defended, He also has good size at 6’2″ which should make him a popular player for needy teams to remember. Rush could offer the Lions some good depth and playmaking on the back end down the draft board.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Defensive Line, Northwestern
Thus far in the pre-draft process, lots of the early hype for the Lions has centered around the team’s potential need at defensive tackle. Early in the draft, the team could look to solve that need with a top-end player.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, however, wouldn’t cost a first-round pick and could do just the same amount of damage in the trenches. The Northwestern product was sneaky productive in the Big Ten, posting 97 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for-loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception in a stout four-year career.
Adebawore would be a find down the board for the Lions, and a potential answer as it relates to who will clog the running lanes while offering some support as a pass rusher.
Andre Carter II, Linebacker/Edge, Army
The Lions need playmakers at all levels of their defense, and Army’s Andre Carter II should be a player that catches their attention given his ability to turn in plenty of dominating moments on the field as well as create turnovers.
Carter finished his career with the Black Knights maintaining some fantastic production. He collected 96 total tackles 25.5 of which were for-loss, 19 sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles and five passes defended in college.
As he gets set to transition to the next level, Carter is the type of player who could bring a big-play edge to the Lions around the football. The team should be looking for players like that to help round out their defense for the future, given they lacked it during the 2022 season.
Isaiah Foskey, Defensive Line, Notre Dame
The Lions have gotten good returns from a pair of Notre Dame defenders in Julian Okwara and Romeo Okwara. Isaiah Foskey could be next in line to be a solid Irish defender up front.
Foskey was very productive in college, posting 121 tackles and 21 total sacks along with seven forced fumbles. That production was notable along the defensive front, and he could also bring the versatility as both a run stopper and a pass rusher that teams crave.
Already, Foskey has told folks on the ground including Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com that he wants to prove that versatility. Given Detroit’s need for players that can have that impact, Foskey is an important name to remember during the Senior Bowl this week.