The Detroit Lions, like everybody else, were a captive audience as the playoff semifinals played out on New Year’s Day, and along the way, they may have unearthed some players that could prove to be immediate difference makers for the roster.
So who impressed the most in both bowl games from Detroit’s perspective? There were plenty of players who stepped up and made a case to be of interest in Detroit following a big day of action, and all of them could help the Lions immediately if they ended up on the roster.
Here’s a look at who opened the most eyes in Detroit with their work.
DeVonta Smith, WR
The potential Heisman Trophy winner made a great case to take home the award with a huge performance against Notre Dame, putting up 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nearly every single catch Smith made was of the highlight reel variety and he looked like an NFL wideout already making plays in the bowl game. Many have connected Smith to where Detroit could pick, and given the talent drain that could play out at wideout, adding a talent like Smith high in the draft has to be enticing for the Lions. He is an elite talent, and could make sense as it relates to Detroit depending on how high they select and what they determine the biggest need to be.
Justin Fields, QB
If Fields is not the second quarterback off the board, that could be music to Detroit’s ears. After a 6 touchdown outburst against Clemson in which Fields outplayed potential top pick Trevor Lawrence, his stock could be higher than ever. Even such, the Lions had to like what they saw out of Fields, a guy many have figured could make sense for them high in the draft if the team goes quarterback hunting. Fields showed off a strong, capable arm and plenty of toughness in the win while playing through pain. Did his stock rise higher than Detroit? It’s possible, but if the Lions have a shot at Fields, it will be interesting to see what they do.
Cornell Powell, WR
Clemson’s top pass catcher was the best player on the field for the Tigers in the whole game, putting up 139 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Buckeyes and looking like a matchup problem all night long. Depending on how the wideout board shakes out, Powell could be a name the Lions look at to fill the need they will have at pass catcher. With speed and size, Powell looked the part of a potential NFL star in the game and the Lions had to be interested considering they could need all the help they could get at wideout in the coming draft.
Trey Sermon, RB
Much like Fields outplaying Lawrence, Sermon was arguably the most impressive runner on the field not named Najee Harris on Friday. He showed toughness, thump and vision in rumbling for 193 yards and a score against a solid Clemson defensive front. Detroit already has a player in D’Andre Swift that is capable at running back, but imagine pairing him with Sermon. It could be a thunder and lightning type scenario for the Lions, and Sermon had a solid game to boost his own stock on the biggest stage. Runner isn’t a huge need in Detroit, but someone like Sermon could provide a huge boost to the group.
Chris Olave, WR
Ohio State’s top junior wideout put on a show of his own with 132 yards and 2 scores in the game, showing off his ability as a deep burner and solid route runner. Olave may have made himself some money with the elite performance, and the Lions should have been all-eyes as a team that needs pass catchers. Olave has speed and the ability to separate and was a big play waiting to happen. For Detroit, that has to be something they remember, especially if he decides to declare at the end of bowl season.