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TWENTYMAN: 10 players to watch in national semifinal games

The Detroit Lions have one more game left on their 2019 schedule Sunday at Ford Field against Green Bay, but then the calendar and the mindset in Allen Park quickly shifts to 2020 and how the Lions can improve.

Saturday is the college football national semifinal with No. 1 LSU squaring off against No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 2 Ohio State matching up with No. 3 Clemson.

There will be a lot of future NFL talent on display in those two contests, talent the Lions would no-doubt like to get their hands on come NFL Draft time. The Lions currently hold the No. 3 pick in the draft. They can move up as high as No. 2, but fall no further than No. 5, depending on what happens the final week of the regular season.

Here's a look at 10 players to watch in Saturday's semifinal games:

1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Young shattered the Ohio State single-season sack record (16.5), despite missing two games. He's the consensus top pass rusher in this class who can win with speed and power. He has 21.0 tackles for loss and 44 tackles. He'd be a terrific addition upfront for the Lions to pair with Trey Flowers.

2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

The Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio native seems like a perfect fit for Cincinnati with the No. 1 overall pick, but who knows how the draft will shake out. Burrow completed 77.9 percent of his passes for 4,715 yards with 48 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Matthew Stafford is under contract through 2022, but the Lions don't have a successor in the fold.

3. Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Okudah is over 6-feet tall and around 200 pounds with terrific length and ball skills. He has three interceptions on the year, and has defended seven passes. He has the skillset to play both inside and outside at the next level. He's projected to be one of first cornerbacks off the board. Darius Slay is entering the final year of his contract, and the Lions need more skilled players that can make an impact at the corner position.

4. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Simmons has the prototypical frame (6-4, 225) and skillset to play linebacker in today's NFL. He's got position versatility, and can run and cover. He's a three-down player that a creative defensive mind can have some fun with. He has 93 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and has defended six passes on the year with two interceptions. He'll wow at the Combine. Detroit's 31st ranked defense needs more playmakers like Simmons, no question about that.

5. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Lamb and Alabama's Jerry Jeudy are probably the two best receivers in what's projected to be a very deep 2020 receiving class. Lamb can take the top off the defense, but he can also take a two yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He's averaging 20.8 yards per reception with 14 touchdowns on the year. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. have just one year left on their contracts, though Golladay is a candidate for an extension this offseason. Danny Amendola is also a free agent this offseason. The Lions have to start thinking about retooling the receiver room for the future.

6. Grant Delpit, S, LSU

A playmaker in the backend of LSU's defense with terrific length (6-3, 203) and ball skills, Delpit had 74 tackles and five interceptions as a junior in 2018. Those numbers have fallen off a bit this season (56 & two), but he's a rangy safety that can tackle and cover. The Lions have a good, young safety in Tracy Walker. What would the back of the defense look like with another safety in the same mold to pair with Walker?

7. Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Terrific frame (6-4, 215) and ball skills make Higgins a pretty safe bet as a first-round draft pick. He has 13 touchdowns on the year and is averaging better than 20.0 yards per grab. Higgins has 52 receptions for 1,082 yards and those 13 touchdown catches. Receiver is a sneaky long-term need for the Lions.

View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.

8. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

Not many freshman get to start at running back for the Buckeyes, but Dobbins was so good when he got to Ohio State they had no choice but to play him. He rushed for 1,403 yards as a freshman and has passed the 1,000-yard threshold in each of his three seasons at Ohio State. He's rushed for 1,829 yards (6.5 average) with 20 touchdowns this season. The Lions have Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough, but Johnson's battled injuries his first two seasons and running back is always a position where young talent should be a welcome addition.

9. Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Fulton has good NFL size (6-0, 200), and has a knack for getting his hand on the football with 12 passes defended and an interception this season. He's built to play man coverage, and that's a staple of the Lions' defense.

10. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior has a terrific combination of shiftiness and power that's turned into back-to-back 1,500-yard campaigns for the junior. He's averaged a ridiculous 8.0 yards per attempt over his three seasons at Clemson with 54 touchdowns. He'll likely be one of the first three or four backs off the board.

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