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10 bowl game prospects to watch this week

Bowl season is here, 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 potentially the No. 1 overall pick depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, and three picks in the top 33. They could also be rewarded a few compensatory picks, with one of those potentially being a third rounder.

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

1. Quarterback Malik Willis, Liberty

Lending Tree Bowl (Liberty vs. Eastern), Sat. Dec. 18

Willis transferred to Liberty from Auburn and had two quality seasons as a starter in 2020 and 2021. He's a dual-threat player with a combined 4,876 yards passing with 44 touchdowns and 18 interceptions and 1,784 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns the last two years. Willis has a high ceiling and is projected to be a middle to late first-round pick. He's accepted an invite to play in next month's Senior Bowl.

2. Quarterback Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky Boca Raton Bowl (Appalachian St. vs. Western Kentucky), Sat. Dec. 18

Zappe, a transfer from Houston Baptist, is the Conference USA MVP after throwing for a conference-record 56 touchdowns in his only season with the Hilltoppers. He is also the national leader with 5,570 yards passing, and is within reach of the FBS single-season record of 5,833 yards going into this game. He'll also be at the Senior Bowl.

3. Edge rusher DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky Boca Raton Bowl (Appalachian St. vs. Western Kentucky), Sat. Dec. 18

This 6-foot-4, 240-pound edge rusher has terrific length and has been terrorizing opponents the last few years. He's recorded double-digit tackles for loss in each of the last three seasons (16.5 this season) with 24.0 sacks over that stretch. He's the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He's likely a Day 2 pick.

4. Tight end Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

Cure Bowl (Coastal Carolina vs. Northern Illinois), Fri. Dec. 17

The Lions like what they have at tight end with T.J. Hockenson and Brock Wright, but could be looking to add to the position this offseason. Likely has been really productive for the Chanticleers the last two seasons. He caught 30 balls for 601 yards and five touchdowns as a junior in 2020. He's caught 52 passes for 816 yards and will be looking to add to his 10 touchdowns on the year in the bowl game. He needs to improve his blocking, but he should be one of the better tight end prospects in the draft and a potential Day 2 prospect. He'll also be in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.

5. Safety Tycen Anderson, Toledo

Bahamas Bowl (Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo), Fri. Dec. 17

Anderson (6-2, 210) was a preseason All-MAC selection and on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back). He was second on the team with 84 tackles starting all 12 games in 2019. He's got 41 tackles in nine games this season with a sack and a pass defended. He's accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He's a Day 3 prospect.

6. Cornerback Decobie Durant, South Carolina State

Cricket Celebration Bowl (South Carolina State vs. Jackson State), Sat. Dec 18

The MEAC Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Durant (5-11, 180) is one of the MEAC's top pro prospects after accumulating 37 tackles and leading the league in passes defended (14) and tying for second in interceptions with three. Two of his interceptions came against Clemson on Sept. 11.

7. Safety Percey Butler, Louisiana

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Marshall vs. Louisiana), Sat. Dec. 18

Butler has a wealth of experience playing in 49 career games. He's got 60 total tackles with six tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries in 12 games this season. He's defended 10 total passes the last two years combined. Butler is a likely Day 3 pick.

8. Running back Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl (BYU vs. UAB), Sat. Dec. 18

Allgeier has terrific size, production and movement skills at the position. He's notched back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Cougars, with 1,414 yards and 20 touchdowns this season in 12 games. He's also caught 24 passes. He's got 33 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

9. Linebacker D'Marco Jackson, Appalachian St. Boca Raton Bowl (Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky), Sat. Dec 18

A three-year starter, Jackson leads App State in total tackles with 114 (56 solo) and also has 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He's got terrific size and versatility as an inside linebacker. He's also got five pass breakups and an interception. He'll be playing in the Senior Bowl next month.

10. Offensive tackle Max Mitchell, Louisiana

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Marshall vs. Louisiana) Sat. Dec. 18

Mitchell has a long frame at 6-foot-6, though he'll likely have to put on some weight coming into the NFL as he currently weighs a touch under 300 pounds. He's got experience playing both left and right tackle, which teams love in tackle prospects. He's accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl.

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