The Detroit Lions rookie class has been assembled, and finally, there is some measure of finality as it relates to what jersey numbers the players will wear.
This week, Detroit assigned their rookie class new numbers, and there were a few surprises on the list, but rest assured they are only temporary.
Both D’Andre Swift and Jeff Okudah will not be keeping No. 1 and No. 6 respectively, because they can’t wear those numbers in the NFL during the season. Expect that duo to get different numbers by the time the season gets closer to starting.
Otherwise, these are the numbers the team’s rookie class will be taking on to start their careers.
Lions Draft Class Rated High Against NFL
How does Detroit’s draft class rate against all their competition in the league as a whole? It’s a hard question to answer, but recently, a pair of NFL.com writers tried by stacking up all the drafts against each other and rating them 1-32.
Detroit’s 2020 class shapes up pretty well. According to a piece by Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr, Detroit should score an A- for their draft work a few weeks back. The entire class itself ranks within the league’s top 10, coming in as the No. 8 overall class in the NFL.
According to Filice in a lengthy writeup, the way the Lions filled needs in a diverse fashion offensively and defensively means their draft was very successful. Detroit added defense early with Jeff Okudah, scored potential steals with D’Andre Swift and Romeo Okwara and managed to help fix their ground game with Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg, a pair of guards with different skill sets yet similar outlook.
Obviously, it’s true the Lions have done a great job in this draft considering all their needs and how they managed to balance them out. That’s just what this in-depth analysis seems to show. As a result, the team could be able to turn the corner in the short term given the elite class.
Experts Credit Lions With Multiple Draft Steals
While analysts might not ever be able to agree on how the class should be graded, Detroit, however, might have been able to steal multiple players along the way as they set out to craft their roster in the draft. Pro Football Focus took a look at naming the biggest steals in the entire draft, and the site credited the Lions with finding a pair this year, more than any other team in the NFL at this point.
The first steal they identified was Julian Okwara, an edge rusher that PFF was extremely high on as the No. 28 overall player on their board Detroit got at pick 63. Here’s what Anthony Treash wrote:
“Although he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11 this past year, there’s no reason Okwara should have been available in the third round. With his explosiveness off the line, overall athleticism and long arms, Okwara was a first-round talent in this draft. Prior to getting hurt, Okwara was having one of the top seasons in college football at his position by owning an elite 90.4 pass-rush grade.”
From there, the Lions didn’t have to wait long to find their next steal. They traded up to get him in offensive guard Jonah Jackson, a player credited as one of the best pass defending guards in the draft and PFF’s 40th rated player. The Lions scored him with pick 75.
“No one in this draft class has better pass sets than Jonah Jackson. He gets on defensive linemen rapidly and can play anywhere along the interior. While playing for Rutgers and Ohio State the past few years, Jackson logged snaps at every interior position and performed incredibly well in pass protection, recording a pass-blocking grade on true pass sets above the 90th percentile. He’s the best pass-protecting interior lineman in this class.”
Obviously, the Lions hope these players, along with the others they selected, help infuse some much needed talent on their team. If they end up getting better in the years ahead as a result of these players, it will only merely prove the point they were perhaps a bit underrated.
Lions 2020 Draft Class
The Lions had a busy weekend, picking up cornerback Jeff Okudah, running back D’Andre Swift, guard Jonah Jackson, edge rusher Julian Okwara, guard Logan Stenberg, wideout Quintez Cephus, running back Jason Huntley, defensive tackle John Penisini and defensive lineman Jashon Cornell. As a whole, the draft class was solid in plenty of ways. Detroit addressed some of their biggest needs including a new cornerback as well as toughness on the offensive and defensive lines. They also added a potentially elite runner in Swift.
Many have graded the draft highly as a result, and it looks as if the Lions may have even found a few steals along the way to help them out as well. They might have scored one of the best classes in the league as a result.
Minus Swift and Okudah, they will be rolling with these jerseys to start the next step in their career.