Brady Podloski | April 6th, 2020
The Detroit Lions finished in last place in the NFC North Division, but that doesn’t reflect the reality of their situation. The team was competitive for the first six games going 2-3-1, and during this stretch, all of their losses were by four points or less. The Lions were not as bad as their record shows. However going forward, this is a significant offseason for head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, as both are rumored to be on the hot seat. In short, Patricia and Quinn need to win and be in “meaningful games” during December. To play in the meaningful games in December, the Lions have hit on a few of their nine picks in the 2020 draft.
“We expect to be a playoff contender,” Mrs. Ford told https://t.co/GuQ9WAOUfS. “That means playing meaningful games in December.”— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) December 17, 2019
Accordingly, this offseason the Lions brought in New England Patriot starters, linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Duron Harmon, and nose tackle Danny Shelton. As well they brought in a considerable number of starters and depth players in defensive tackle Nick Williams, cornerback Desmond Trufant, safety Jayron Kearse, quarterback Chase Daniel, offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, cornerback Tony McRae, cornerback Darryl Roberts, guard Oday Aboushi, linebacker Reggie Ragland, linebacker Elijah Lee, and wide receiver Geronimo Allison. The Lions coaching staff were the coaches for the Senior Bowl North Team. We should expect the Lions to target those players, primarily as a result of limited player visits. As well, the coaches already have a relationship and understanding of how those players act and how coachable they are.
To help with this mock draft, I used the Draft Network Mock Draft Simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team mock drafts here.
Round 1, Pick 3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
This pick could go one of two ways, linebacker Isaiah Simmons or Okudah. We have to consider the position the coaching staff is in; if they take Simmons, then they have to find a way to play the second year Jahlani Tavai due to his second round draft stock and Collins because of his contract. Whereas, the Lions traded away cornerback, Darius Slay because he wanted a contract extension. Slay played a significant role in the defense as the Lions played a considerable amount of man to man coverage. So while Trufant can alleviate the stress of playing a significant amount of man to man, he’s not a viable number one corner.
Okudah is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and projects to be like Marshon Lattimore. If the Lions take Okudah, it fills a significant need for the man to man scheme they primarily play. I think he’s going to be fun to watch when he plays against Davante Adams, and may even give Adams problems in the future. Okudah really has a chance to be a special player in the league for a long time. Be sure to check out Okudah’s scouting report.
Round 2, Pick 35: Marlon Davidson, DT/EDGE, Auburn
Davidson played this past year at 282 lbs but showed up at the Senior Bowl at 297 lbs. What’s impressive is he maintained his first-step quickness and ability to rush with agility at 297 lbs at the Senior Bowl where he consistently beat guards and centers all week. Not only did he maintain his agility, but he had a solid bull rush during Senior Bowl week. I think his best position is an interior three-tech where he can be a pass-rushing specialist and learn to take on guards during the run. He is going to win a lot from the interior but needs work on stopping the run. He has the potential to be a great starter going forward.
Auburn's Marlon Davidson during #SeniorBowl practice with the hesi/bull to long arm. Finishes with an inside escape via the arm over@marlondavidson7 is projected to go early in the first round of the 2020 #NFLDraft! #PassRush #WarEagle— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) January 22, 2020
Video Credit: @VochLombardi pic.twitter.com/foW5zhlLi7
In terms of the Lions defense, Davidson is the perfect multiple front defensive lineman. He has experience playing on the edge and is versatile enough that Patricia can have him rotate along the line to generate pressure. To start the year, I think he can rush the passer from the three-tech position on passing downs, where he can beat guards with power and quickness. Overall, I really like the fit, as I think the veteran players like Shelton and Trey Flowers can pick up the slack with the run-stopping, and allow Davidson to develop as a dangerous pass rusher.
Round 3, Pick 67: Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
Uche is a developmental project but has the potential to be a pass-rushing specialist. He had seven sacks in 2018 and seven and a half sacks in 2019, and he showed his skills as a Senior Bowl North Team standout who was coached by the Lions staff. During the Senior Bowl, Uche won plenty of reps from the edge with speed, bend, and hand usage. At the next level, he projects to be strictly a pass-rusher with two pass-rushing moves. He has room to develop more pass-rushing moves and can get better as a run defender. Ultimately, Uche fills a significant need for the Lion’s edge spot, with the departure of Devon Kennard.
Spoken to teams caught up on Josh Uche’s low snap % at Michigan. Smart GMs won’t over-think this. Many teams did same thing with Alvin Kamara because he didn’t start at Tennessee. Sometimes colleges just don’t know what they have. @_Uche35 is the most versatile LB in this draft. pic.twitter.com/NkOGw3db8T— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 30, 2020
Round 3, Pick 85: Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame
Pride was the best cornerback at the Senior Bowl and was a significant part of the North Team’s defense. Importantly, he was coached by Patricia and other Lions staff, meaning the Lions have an understanding of his personality and coach-ability. Pride’s got great speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash), and the coverage skills to develop into a reliable man to man cornerback. He’s got good ability to press, and play man to man. Realistically, Pride can develop for a year and compete to be the number two option for the team if Trufant struggles.
Round 4, Pick 109: Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
At 6’5 and 337 lbs, Fotu is a massive space eater but has some surprising quickness to beat guards and maintain gaps to stop the run. Ideally, he plays as a run-stuffing defensive tackle that replaces Damon Harrison while learning from Shelton. I believe Fotu needs time to develop, but that he can become a full-time starter by the middle of year two just as Shelton’s contract expires.
Round 5, Pick 149: Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
The Lions are stout at wide receiver; however, Marvin Jones’ contract is expiring after the 2020 season and Danny Amendola will be 34 years old. The Lions need to draft wide receivers for depth and to ensure they can manage the cap situation. I think Duvernay can be a viable slot receiver with a dynamic run after the catch ability. One of Duvernay’s pro comparisons is wide receiver, Golden Tate, who thrives with short passes and runs after the catch. Duvernay had 106 catches for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns, but mostly through screens and short passes.
Devin Duvernay led the country in broken tackles on screens😳pic.twitter.com/U7Zdfd6tyP— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 17, 2020
Round 5, Pick 166: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
Kerryon Johnson is a talent back; however, he has always been injured each year of his career, even going back to college, in 2016 he had a sprained ankle while in 2017 he had hamstring problems. Then when he was drafted in 2018, he missed the final six games of his rookie campaign with a knee injury, and then in 2019, he only played eight games. Going forward, the Lions need to find a complimentary back that can reduce the workload for Johnson. Vaughn is a physical runner who would be great between the tackles and has excellent contact balance allowing him to get those additional yards by falling forward.
Round 6, Pick 182: Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest
Herron was at the Senior Bowl and was coached by the Lions staff. He is 6’4 and 308 lbs and can be a viable backup offensive lineman who can play multiple positions. Herron was a three-year starter at Wake Forest but missed his entire 2018 season due to an ACL tear. Herron’s best trait is pass blocking where he is reliable, but he struggles to run block. He can also be a back up for the guard position behind the second year, Casey Tucker, who I suspect will be the right guard going forward.
Round 7, Pick 235: James Proche, WR, SMU
Proche is an additional depth piece for the pass catchers on the offense. However, he doesn’t have the speed or route-running ability to play on the outside. He does offer some of the best hands in the class and outstanding production with 111 catches for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. He can compete with Duvernay and Amendola for snaps in the slot. He is limited to being a slot receiver in the NFL due to his lack of speed.
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