Reunion of Former Teammates in the Lions’ Den?
As the NFL buzz continues to grow, former Illinois teammates Kerby Joseph and Devon Witherspoon could potentially reunite on the Lions. Joseph recently shared his thoughts on Good Morning Football about Witherspoon’s NFL prospects, adding fuel to the fire.
Kerby’s Impactful Rookie Season
Hailing from Illinois, general manager Brad Holmes and his team were quick to spot Joseph’s play-making abilities and his knack for being around the football. In his debut NFL season, the young defensive back recorded four interceptions, two forced fumbles, eight passes defensed, and 55 solo tackles.
Devon Witherspoon, “A Certified Baller”
On Good Morning Football, Joseph was asked about his college teammate, Devon Witherspoon, who many predict may be targeted by the Lions. Emphatically, Joseph praised Witherspoon, saying any NFL team that drafts him will get a “certified baller” who is self-motivated, physically tough, and not afraid to make big hits.
“Y’all gonna get a certified baller, a certified dawg. Somebody that you don’t have to tell to get on their horse…somebody that’s gonna work on their own. That wants to get better on his own. Keeps his own motivation. Im just so proud of him. He comes up and makes tackles…he’s very physical…you know with corner a lot of the time they don’t like to be physical. But this corner right here, my dawg ‘Spoon, he’s gonna hit someone for sure.”
Illinois: A Quiet NFL Secondary Talent Factory
Despite not being considered among the Big Ten’s elite, Illinois has quietly become a pipeline for NFL secondary talent. With Kerby Joseph, Nate Hobbs, and now 21-year-old Devon Witherspoon, the Fighting Illini continue to produce top-tier corner and safety talent.
A Perfect Fit for the Lions?
Having already struck gold with Illinois safety Kerby Joseph, the Lions might return to Champaign to draft one of the scrappiest, most instinctive corners available: Devon Witherspoon. A former roommate of Joseph’s, Witherspoon perfectly fits the Lions’ mold.
A Gritty and Tough Culture in Detroit
Witherspoon’s instincts and outstanding ball skills would be right at home in the culture that Dan Campbell and his team are building in Detroit. Additionally, fans and analysts alike describe Campbell’s culture as gritty and tough, making Witherspoon an ideal candidate.
Praise from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah
NFL Network draft expert and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah ranks Witherspoon as the No. 5 overall prospect in the draft and a top-10 pick. Jeremiah praises Witherspoon’s instincts, natural feel, awareness, route recognition, and ability to anticipate plays before they develop.
“He sees things before they develop. Sometimes you can see guys that have the athletic ability, and sometimes you see guys that really have studied film and they know how to play, and it’s not common when you see guys that have all that wrapped up together. He does. He is a complete package that way. I mean, I wish he was 200 pounds. He is not going to be. He is going to be a little bit lighter, but he just pulls the trigger. He does not play with any hesitation. He plays with ultimate aggressiveness and confidence and urgency. Then you see that and say, OK, well, let’s see what happens when they hit him with double moves because sometimes you can take advantage of guys that are making plays on the ball. He doesn’t fall for it. He is really, really instinctive that way. He is outstanding in zone.”
Witherspoon’s Stellar Performance
Witherspoon is projected as a first round draft pick by most media outlets. He has earned consensus All-America honors and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. The cornerback had 41 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, and 14 passes broken up this past season. Furthermore, this ranked Witherspoon clearly among the nation’s top cornerbacks.
Lock-Down Player with Translatable Skills
As the No. 1 corner for the Illini, Witherspoon showcased his skills as a lock-down player on a resurgent defense. His man-to-man coverage abilities allowed only 22 receptions on 65 targets (33.8 percent). Moreover, he gave up only 206 yards (9.4 per reception and 17.2 per game), according to Pro Football Focus.
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