The Detroit Lions have one of the better rookie draft classes in the NFL in 2020, but who from the group is poised to make the biggest impact right off the bat?
In Detroit, the answer can be summed up with picks No. 1 and No. 2 according to Nate Burleson. On a recent segment of Good Morning Football, the former wideout was asked which Lions rookies would need to perform for the team most of all. As he said, the answer was as simple as Jeff Okudah and D’Andre Swift.
— GMFB (@gmfb) August 17, 2020
“It’s simple, we all knew they were going to address a couple of positions and they addressed the cornerback position so I’m looking at Jeff Okudah. We know what Darius Slay meant to this defense, and he was a true shut down corner and Pro Bowl guy. But Jeff Okudah can do it all. He can cover, he’ll come down hill and hit you. He’s quiet but he plays bigger than what he looks like. For me, it is about Jeff Okudah coming in and filling a place. It’s not that difficult to come in and fill the cornerback spot as it might be to fill what Calvin Johnson left behind. I’m not saying it’s easy, a rookie cornerback, teams will pick on you but I do want to see him be a success. Another guy is D’Andre Swift. If you haven’t paid attention to him in college, this guy was nasty. I guarantee he’s going to come in right away and help this offense. Those 2 rookies right there, immediate impact for the Lions.”
It’s safe to say the team is feeling the pressure of having those players play a significant role, and if Burleson is right, it could be a huge shot in the arm for the entire team getting a top flight player on offense and defense early from the last draft to play a big role right off the bat.
The Lions want to see these youngsters step up and get the job done, and help could only be a few weeks away for the team.
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 this past offseason, 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.
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.
That will only be the case the more contributors they get along the way, and for now, Burleson sees their first pair of selections playing a big role for the team moving forward.