Coaching in the Senior Bowl offers a unique opportunity for the Detroit Lions to get an up-close look at some top prospects heading into the NFL Draft.
The Lions currently hold two first-round picks, the No. 2 overall pick and a to-be-determined selection that will be decided by how the Los Angeles Rams' season finishes.
Regardless, the ability for coach Dan Campbell and company to get a closer look at some of the best prospects available will allow them to adjust their draft boards.
Senior Bowl week begins with practice Tuesday, Feb. 1, and culminates in the game on Feb. 5. The event is held at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
Here are 10 prospects for the Lions to keep an eye on in Mobile.
Cade Mays, OL, Tennessee
The versatile lineman from Tennessee has experience playing both tackle and guard, making him an asset. He dealt with injuries in college, but rebounded to become a third-team All-SEC selection in his final season with the Volunteers.
The Lions are set with their bookend tackles in Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell, and look to be on the interior, as well. However, Mays is a former five-star recruit, and could provide solid depth as a mid-to-late-round selection, should he catch the Lions’ eye.
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
Taylor-Britt is a speedy prospect who could be worth a late-round flyer. He doesn’t have flashy numbers to show from his time with the Cornhuskers, but showed skills in coverage, earning a 76.3 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus during the 2021 season.
He is a rangy defender, standing at 6-foot, with good ball skills. Some scouting outlets believe his speed may be an issue, but there’s reason to like Taylor-Britt as the draft wears on. There’s also a belief that he could see some time at safety, as he’s currently listed by SI’s NFL Draft Bible as a free safety.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
McCreary is a prospect believed to be among the best at his position heading into the draft. He picked off two passes in his final year with the Tigers, and notched 14 pass breakups. Currently, SI’s NFL Draft Bible has him ranked as the fifth-best corner in the draft.
He is a bit smaller than some of his counterparts, standing in at 5-foot-11. However, what he lacks in size he makes up for in ball skills and fluidity. With the Lions’ cornerback room filled with young players, McCreary may be worth a shot on day two, to bring in more competition.
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
The Lions struck gold with rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2021, as the USC product went on to have the best rookie season by a Lions wideout ever. However, he’s just one piece in a wide receiver puzzle that Detroit is looking to solve.
Enter Tolbert, who could potentially be the thunder to St. Brown’s lightning. He stands at 6-foot-3, and caught 82 passes for 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns at South Alabama last season. His physicality allows him to win in 50-50 situations.
This is a player who some believe could stand out in Mobile. He’s physically capable of big things, but there are issues with his route-running that could prevent him from attaining early-round status.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Lions won’t get an up-close look at Dotson, as he’ll be suiting up for the Jets’ squad at the Senior Bowl. However, there will still be plenty of opportunities to get an eye on him from afar. The Penn State product will head to the game, looking to build on a solid senior season.
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Currently mocked as a potential first-round selection, Dotson’s ball skills far outweigh his 5-foot-11 frame. He can play outside and win in one-on-one situations, as he did in his time with the Nittany Lions.
He’s among the top prospects set to take the field in Mobile, and may very well play his way up the draft board. It will be interesting to see how Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes weigh his performance.
JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
In 2021, the Lions drafted a physical linebacker in Derrick Barnes. Though the tackling prowess showed itself on occasion, the Purdue product left more to be desired in pass coverage. Domann could be the answer to those problems.
The Nebraska product has great instincts, making him very good in coverage situations. He can still bring the thunder, but his abilities in pass coverage set him apart. He is an exciting player to watch, and could be a good fit with what the Lions are trying to do defensively.
Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
A converted safety, Muma is another linebacker with very good instincts. He’s a solid tackler, and can hold his own in pass coverage, as well.
The backer takes good angles to the ball, and doesn’t make many mistakes. Currently, he’s projected as a fringe top-10 player at his position, with a chance to improve. He will be a captivating watch, as his performance could move him either much higher or lower on draft boards.
Jermaine Johnson, DL, Florida State
Listed by SI’s NFL Draft Bible as a top-five defensive lineman, Johnson rose to stardom as the top junior college recruit in the 2019 class. He spent time at Georgia, before transferring and finding a home at Florida State.
He’s a player that could potentially find his way to outside linebacker, as he’s certainly athletic enough to do so. He’s got good speed and awareness, to go along with his sure-tackling skills.
The Lions are widely believed to choose a player at his position with their second overall selection, but Johnson could play his way into their thoughts in the middle rounds with a good performance.
Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
After spending four seasons at Houston Baptist, Zappe transferred to Western Kentucky, where he enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons a passer has ever had at the collegiate level. He rewrote the records for passing yards and touchdowns, igniting the Hilltoppers’ offense.
Now, he’s entering the draft as a mysterious prospect. Despite the obvious arm talent, there are concerns about his accuracy and ability to make plays on the move. He certainly was prolific as a college quarterback, but he made his money in high-flying, up-tempo offenses. How he translates to the NFL game will be fascinating, as his skills could be a huge asset if put in the right situation.
The Lions seem to be committed to starting quarterback Jared Goff, but they have two backups that are not under contract heading into the offseason. With a good week, Zappe could create a difficult decision to be made inside team headquarters in Allen Park.
James Cook, RB, Georgia
The Lions seem to be set at running back with Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift. However, they don't have an established third option in the backfield. With running backs taking plenty of contact and bearing the load between the tackles, having a tertiary choice couldn't hurt.
Detroit drafted Jermar Jefferson in 2021, but the rookie was only activated for seven of the team’s 17 games. Enter Cook, who has the versatility to be a threat in both the pass game and run game.
The brother of Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, James caught 27 passes for 284 yards and four scores, in addition to 704 rushing yards, in his final season at Georgia. He could be a valid option to take some weight off Swift's and Williams’ shoulders, if Detroit tries to bring him in as a late-round selection.