Detroit Lions Draft Review

Jeffrey Okudah

Brady Podloski | April 27th, 2020

What an exciting draft weekend! Now all that we can do is talk about the prospects each team drafted. One thing is certain from the weekend, the Detroit Lions got better with each of their picks. As well, It is no secret that Lions head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn needed impact players that could play right away, as they are on the hot seat. From this draft, the Lions picked several pro-ready players that will make a difference in their 2020 season. With that said, this is the recap of the Lions draft and highlights the players they drafted.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team drafts reviews here.

Round 1, Pick 3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Okudah can be a top-five cornerback in the league. He has the length and physicality to play well in a press-man system. He also has the technique to play at a high level in man to man coverage. Moreover, this pick was a slam dunk and Okudah is arguably one of the safest prospects in the draft. While I would have preferred Isaiah Simmons for the defense (which you can read in this report here), Okudah fits the man to man heavy scheme the Lions play. As well, the Lions were forced into taking Okudah with the trade of Darius Slay to the Eagles. 

Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 35: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Initially, this grade was an ‘F’, as Swift will most likely replace Kerryon Johnson, who really never got a chance to solidify his role. Yet while Johnson had consecutive injuries that held him out, Swift had a nagging shoulder injury. While Swift doesn’t have the injury history that Johnson does, it’s fair to wonder if he can hold up to a 20+ touch workload. The other reason this pick gets a lower grade is that running backs are replaceable and the Lions could have gotten a serviceable back in round three. However, Swift’s talent and upside to be an elite running back counters the bad grade, primary as a result of his route running ability, reliable hands, and elusiveness. The offensive will provide him with lots of opportunities to score and make plays.  

Check out Swift’s scouting report if you want more information on him. 

Grade: C+

Round 3, Pick 67: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame

You may know the Okwara name, from Romeo Okwara, the brother of the newly acquired Julian. I had a first-round grade on Okwara, as he has the burst, power, and bend to become a dominant pass rusher in the league. If he can become more consistent and develop another pass rushing move, he can become a consistent eight sack contributor. 

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 75: Jonah Jackson, IOL, Ohio State

Arguably, one of the best pass-blocking guards in the draft, Jackson can start immediately. With Graham Glasgow going to the Broncos, Lion fans should feel comfortable at right guard with Jackson starting there. If he improves his run blocking, he’ll be a valuable guard that can be a difference-maker on an already good offensive line. Picking Jackson and Stenberg makes the Lions a contender to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. 

Grade: A

Round 4, Pick 121: Logan Stenberg, IOL, Kentucky

Love Stenberg in the fourth round as a team can never have enough depth in the interior offensive line.  While Joe Dahl is the assumed starter, Stenberg could easily be the starter by the end of the year or next year.  There are several things Stenberg needs to improve, but the most significant is holding up against the bull rush in pass protection. With experience, Stenberg should develop into a solid player.

Grade B+

Round 5, Pick 166: Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin

With the depth in this draft, Cephus was pushed down, allowing him to be a value as a fifth-round pick.  Cephus has good speed, reliable hands, smooth route running, and the strength to beat the press. He has a high floor, meaning he will be able to carve out a role on the Lions and become a successful receiver in the NFL. He needs a year to develop and adapt to the speed of the NFL. But for this year, Cephus will be a backup receiver, who can take over the Marvin Jones roles once his contract expires after the 2020 year.

Grade B+

Round 5, Pick 172: Jason Huntley, RB, New Mexico St

Getting Huntley as the additional depth is a great pick as running backs get hurt often. He also offers special teams versatility, great long speed, and pass-catching ability. He had 154 carries for 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns, but his pass-catching ability was reflected with his 40 catches. Huntley’s not a lock to make the roster as the running back position for the Lions already has lots of depth, but he has value in the passing game. 

Grade: C

Round 6, Pick 197: John Penisini, NT/DT, Utah

With the multiple front scheme, versatility and run defending are vital to the Lions defense. With the loss of Damon Harrison, there is a lack of depth in the interior defensive line. Penisini can play nose tackle with his size 6’1” and 318lbs, and he will dominate running downs, forcing teams to double-team him. Penisini has the potential to be a full-time starter in future years, with his bull rush and run-stopping ability. Overall, this is a great pick in the fifth round as Penisini has the opportunity to play sometime this year and will make an impact against the run. 

Grade: B

Round 7, Pick 235: Jashon Cornell, DT/DE, Ohio State

Cornell is another depth piece who can play multiple positions due to size and run-stuffing ability. He’s 6’3” and 285lbs, meaning he can play outside edge defending the run first and interior defensive tackle on pass-rushing downs. Cornell had four sacks and 30 total tackles in 2019 and can get better stopping the run. Cornell may have a hard time making the roster, but overall drafting more depth on the defensive line is good management with the number of injuries that can occur. 

Grade: B

Overall, the Lions had a great draft and were able to attain talented players who fit their needs and scheme.  As well, the Lions picked mostly pro-ready players who will make an impact immediately. I believe Quinn and Patricia deserve credit for a good draft, as they focused on drafting immediate impact players. With their current roster – which is better than the record portrays – and the newly drafted impact players, the Lions may finally be a team that surprises the league during the 2020 season.

Final Grade: B+

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