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10 bowl game prospects to watch this week

Bowl season is in full swing, which means a lot of college players around the country with NFL aspirations get one more opportunity to put good play on tape before the all-star games, NFL Scouting Combine and pro days kick into gear early next year in front of NFL personnel.

The Detroit Lions currently have eight draft picks in 2022, with three picks in the top 33. They could also be rewarded a few compensatory picks, with one of those potentially being a third rounder.

Some of the big-time bowl games and big-time programs are center stage this week. With that comes a lot of opt outs from NFL-bound players not in the College Football Playoff. Take that into account when reading this week's list.

Let's take a look at some prospects playing in this week's bowl games who could potentially interest the Lions:

1. Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Capital One Orange Bowl (Georgia vs. Michigan), Fri., Dec. 31

Hutchinson is having a monster senior season for the Wolverines and could be in consideration along with Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux (opted out of Alamo Bowl) for the top pick in this year's draft. Hutchinson is a versatile pass rusher who combines speed with power. He set the Michigan school record with 14.0 sacks this season to go along with 58 total tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss.

2. Linebacker Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Capital One Orange Bowl (Georgia vs. Michigan), Fri., Dec. 31

The 2021 Butkus Award winner as the best linebacker in the country, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American is the total package at linebacker. Dean has 61 tackles (29 solo) to go along with 5.0 sacks and two interceptions. He can do a little bit of everything, which defensive coordinators love from the linebacker position in the NFL.

3. Wide receiver Jameson Williams, Alabama

Goodyear Cotton Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Alabama), Fri., Dec. 31

A transfer from Ohio State, Williams is having a terrific season for the Tide, catching 68 passes for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's as good a big-play threat at receiver this draft will have. He hauled in an Alabama single-season record and an NCAA-leading four touchdowns of 70-plus yards this season, and totaled 11 touchdowns of 30-plus yards or more to lead the nation.

4. Quarterback Matt Corral, Ole Miss.

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Baylor vs. Ole Miss), Sat., Jan. 1

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Corral has completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,339 yards and 20 touchdowns, with just four interceptions, and also has 597 yards on the ground with 11 more touchdowns, which speaks to his athleticism. He is currently the only player in the FBS with more than 3,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing this season.

5. Edge rusher David Ojabo, Michigan

Capital One Orange Bowl (Georgia vs. Michigan), Fri., Dec. 31

Ojabo has paired with Hutchinson this year to form the best edge-rushing duo in the country. He's got elite size (6-5, 250) and get off. He's only played in 19 games with seven starts, so he's a little raw, but he's recorded 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss while forcing a staggering five fumbles. He'll test really well leading into the draft and will be an interesting prospect to watch throughout the process.

6. Wide receiver Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Outback Bowl (Arkansas vs. Penn State), Sat., Jan 1

For his career, Dotson has 183 receptions for 2,757 yards and 25 touchdowns. This season, he has caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. The First-Team All-Big Ten selection has gotten better and more productive every year at Penn State.

7. Cornerback Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Goodyear Cotton Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Alabama), Fri., Dec. 31

Gardner vs. Williams (see above) will be a good matchup to watch all game long in this one. Gardner has elite length (6-3) and hasn't allowed a touchdown in coverage all season. He has three interceptions on the year and has allowed just 177 receiving yards to receivers he's covering.

View photos from Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 16 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 26 in Atlanta, GA.

8. Defensive tackle Jordan Davis, Georgia

Capital One Orange Bowl (Georgia vs. Michigan), Fri., Dec. 31

The Outland Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award winner is a mountain of a man in the middle of Georgia's defense. Only Ndamukong Suh (2009) and Aaron Donald have won both trophies in the same season. He's imposing (6-6, 340) and powerful, with experience playing the nose tackle in a 3-4 and defensive tackle in a 4-3. Imagine the Lions teaming up Alim McNeill and Davis in the center of their defense.

9. Quarterback Sam Howell, North Carolina

Dukes Mayo Bowl (North Carolina vs. South Carolina), Thurs., Dec. 30

Howell's sophomore season in 2020 was more productive, but he was playing with better talent around him. He'll likely still be considered among the top five or so quarterback prospects in this class after completing 62.7 percent of his passes for 2,851 yards with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games.

10. Safety Daxton Hill, Michigan

Capital One Orange Bowl (Georgia vs. Michigan), Fri., Dec. 31

With Tracy Walker set to become a free agent this offseason, the Lions might be in the market to add a safety this offseason. Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton (opted out of Fiesta Bowl) is the best safety in the class, but Hill is right up there. Hill is a safety with cornerback cover skills possessing terrific size and speed traits. He notched 65 total tackles (39 solo) with 4.5 tackles for loss with two interceptions and seven passes defended so far in 13 contests.

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