Former NFL General Manager Predicts Lions Impact Rookies

D'Andre Swift

Getty D'Andre Swift celebrates a touchdown in the SEC Championship Game.

The Detroit Lions are getting set to take on an important 2020 season on the field, and they are counting on their rookie class to deliver some solid results when they get back to work.

Recently, Charley Casserly from revealed the players he believes will represent the top rookies on the team. He selected the team’s first 2 selections from the draft in cornerback Jeff Okudah and running back D’Andre Swift. Casserly thinks the duo will make some waves when they come into the league almost immediately.

According to him, while Okuah might take his time getting into the lineup, he’s the type of player who can trend toward being excellent at the next level.

“The No. 3 overall pick has the potential to be an excellent cornerback at the next level, but don’t expect the Lions to force him into the lineup. It’s a tough position to transition to because of the speed of the NFL game. An excellent press corner with good size, Okudah will compete for a starting spot.”

In terms of Swift, Casserly said that he is just the type of runner that could come into play early for the Lions, especially in tandem with the other players the team has to offer at the position.

“Swift is explosive in the open field and has immense big-play ability. Look for the Lions to use all three running backs — Swift, Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarborough — as they go through the season in an effort to keep them fresh down the stretch.”

The Lions need Okudah and Swift to play a big role of some kind right off the bat.

D’Andre Swift Projected for Huge 2020 Season

This year, Swift is expected to play a huge role for the Lions in the backfield. As part of that role, Swift could see a ton of carries and put up some impressive numbers in his rookie season in the league. That’s just the kind of impact Pro Football Focus sees.

Swift is projected to rack up 179 fantasy points this season by PFF. That would represent the second highest total out of the entire rookie class behind only Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Chiefs. Here’s a look at some of the projected totals:

Obviously, the Lions are going to work to establish the run in a big way this season and Swift figures to be a huge part of that plan. How much of an impact he ends up making could be determined by what the team’s offense looks like, although this projection would be a good one for the team.

Detroit got better at running the ball under Darrell Bevell in 2019, and with an improved offensive line and health, figure to be even better this coming season. If Swift is able to deliver a season like this in fantasy terms, he might just be positioned to be in play for Rookie of the Year honors in the league.

This is just the type of season Lions fans want to see.

Jeffrey Okudah Called Perfect Fit For Lions

A pair of Pro Football Focus analysts explained why Okudah is such a good fit for plenty of teams, especially the Lions, and why he ranks so highly given what he did in college.

“He is the number one cornerback in this draft class. He should be, realistically, the first cornerback drafted within the top three picks in a while,” they said. “It just hasn’t happened. It’s a rare thing to see, but for our money, the second most valuable position on the football field.”

When it came to the Lions, production is the thing that should catch their eye with Okudah most of all according to the PFF folks.

“Someone like the Lions should be more than willing to make Jeffrey Okudah their first round pick with just how dominant he’s been over the course of his college career. For his entire career in college he’s allowed 5.4 yards per target. From freshman year to junior year. That’s absurd. Rare to see a guy play at that high a level,” they said.”

Detroit’s scheme could represent the best fit given man coverage.

“Three, four and five, Lions, Giants and Dolphins all would, should consider Okudah,” they said. “I think he is that good. We always speak to this too. With Okudah and Ohio State cornerbacks, they always play a ton of man coverage, having that experience, the Lions fit is too easy.”

The smart money remains on Okudah being a strong payer when all is said and done, and his talent figures helpful to build up a miserable defense.

Jeffrey Okudah Stats

What stands out for Okudah in the mind of evaluators is mostly his length and size. It could be a winning combination for a needy Detroit pass defense that has been exposed in a major way this season on the back end.

At Ohio State, Okudah has put up some excellent numbers in a short time. He’s collected 78 tackles, 3 interceptions, 16 passes defended and 2 fumble recoveries. Perhaps better than that for the Lions, he didn’t allow a completion over 50 yards this season.

That paints the portrait of a player who can be a potential lock down defender at the next level. Okudah was also a popular selection in mock drafts for Detroit, and that was proven right when the team selected him.

Now that he’s a member of the Lions, folks will hope Okudah and Swift will find a way to get themselves on the field and contributing just like this early on.

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