The Detroit Lions have finished off the 2020 NFL Draft, and overall, the team did a great job to check off all the needs that they had going in.
How have the Lions done in total now that the draft is over? It’s been solid work for the team in a very important offseason. Here’s a look at grading Detroit’s work in the draft this season now that it’s finished off.
Jeff Okudah, CB
The Lions did what they had to do and added Okudah to the mix with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Detroit didn’t trade back, but they didn’t have to. It was a smart move for them to stay put and take the best cornerback they could at a position of intense need on the team. Okudah is a professional and carries himself well. It’s a pick that is easy to love and will only get easier to love as the years go on and Okudah becomes the leader of the team’s secondary and a lock down corner as most figure. It was a safe pick, but it was also a great pick to start the draft.
D’Andre Swift, RB
To start day 2, the Lions had a minor miracle when Swift was still on the board with the 35th pick. It’s baffling that the best runner in the draft lasted this long, but the Lions can’t complain. They’ll simply pair Swift with another tough SEC runner in Kerryon Johnson and give themselves suddenly one of the better rushing attacks on paper in their division. Georgia runners fare well in the NFL, and Swift should be the next in this line. A great selection for Detroit to make.
Julian Okwara, Edge
Needing defensive help up front, the Lions managed to score a great edge option in Okwara. The fit will be seamless given he will have his brother Romeo to show him the ropes in the Motor City. Okwara suffered a tough injury in college which is something to watch, but he says he’s healthy moving forward. That’s good news for the Lions, who need help off the edge. When he’s on, Okwara is possibly more explosive than his brother, and it was a minor miracle to see him last until the 3rd round for the Lions to snap him up in another winning move.
Jonah Jackson, G
The Lions needed help up front and they managed to get it by trading up in order to nab Jackson from Ohio State. If there’s any type of concern with this move, it’s that Jackson had a slow start to the season at Ohio State after transferring from Rutgers, but by the end of the season, that became no concern. The goal of day 2 is to find starters and the Lions likely did this again given their intense need at guard following the offseason. Jackson is likely to start there from the first day he steps foot in the building. A physical player who can get after it up front and move folks at the point of attack, Jackson fits the tough mindset the Lions like up front.
Logan Sternberg, G
It was a mild surprise to see the Lions target another guard this high in the draft, but they targeted the right one in Sternberg given his ability to slaughter in the run game and be a nasty all around dude by virtue of his nickname. Being first team All-SEC out of Kentucky isn’t easy given the competition so that speaks to Sternberg’s talent. Sternberg should be able to compete for a big role quickly in Detroit.
Quintez Cephus, WR
The Lions scored a wideout who might not have all the sexy speed and physical abilities but is no less productive in the Big Ten. Cephus is a professional route runner already having won the blessing of Jeff Okudah in college as the best wideout he went against. Now, Cephus will add some much needed depth to the lower half of Detroit’s wideout group and he has a chance to be special in the Detroit offense.
Jason Huntley, RB
The fact Huntley is a running back makes it a questionable pick from a depth standpoint, but looking beyond that, it’s tough not to see what a football player he is. At only 5-9, Huntley is not going to be winning any height competitions, but he has 4.3 speed and has an insane college highlight reel to rely on. It’s possible he could be a gadget player that could give the Lions snaps at running back, catch passes and figure in as a special teams player. He might have the highest ceiling of any player drafted in his round thanks to what he can do.
John Penisini, DT
Tough not to agree with this pick from a need standpoint at defensive tackle, but the only question is why the team didn’t find someone with a bit more pass rush upside to complement Danny Shelton? Penisini claims he’s the biggest sleeper in the draft, and will have to prove it now. He’s a solid plugger and a tough competitor, but the odds are stacked against him making the team. It’s possible the Lions should have prioritized IDL earlier in the draft.
Jashon Cornell, DL
It might have been a surprise to see Cornell get drafted, but it’s not wise to bet against defensive linemen with an Ohio State pedigree. Cornell does a nice job of pushing the pocket thanks to his athleticism. Teams can do worse than Cornell late in the draft, and given the need for Detroit, it’s not a surprise to see them pick up a defensive lineman. There’s a chance for Cornell to earn his spot on the roster and a lot of upside.
Overall Lions Draft Grade
The Lions checked off a ton of needs and managed to find some potentially elite players within their first 4 selections while also filling out the depth of the team and finding some potential hidden gems on day 3 of the draft. Winning the first days with a few home runs while being able to find the opportunity for some singles and doubles on the final days of the draft is what this is all about. This year, Bob Quinn seemed to do that better than most.