The Detroit Lions’ decision making process in the 2020 NFL Draft is months in the rear view mirror, but that still doesn’t stop folks from going back in time and pondering what the team should have done.
Recently, Pro Football Focus and analyst Mike Renner took a closer look at what perhaps should have played out last spring in a redraft. When it came to the Lions, the team was eagerly anticipating the potential for edge rusher Chase Young to fall down the board to pick No. 3. That never happened, and the Lions simply took his teammate Jeff Okudah for their secondary.
Renner’s redraft, however, has the Lions landing Young when the Washington Football Team selects quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 2 selection.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 18, 2020
At the time, it felt as if Washington was set at quarterback given Dwayne Haskins and his emergence, but it became clear he was not in the plans when he was benched this season. Had Washington known how good Herbert would have been, it’s possible they would have made the move. It’s funny that Young played a major role in Detroit winning in Week 10 when he took a costly roughing the passer penalty in the 4th quarter that aided Detroit’s comeback.
Still, it’s downright tantalizing to think what Young could be doing in the team’s defense right now given how needy the Lions look up front.
Jeff Okudah’s Rookie Year
This year, the Lions have thrown Okudah into the fire and the cornerback has struggled at times to adjust. Famously, he was burned in Week 2, but since has adjusted a bit and yet remains a player that Pro Football Focus tends to identify as one of the cornerbacks with the worst metrics of the 2020 season thus far. Okudah hasn’t put on a statistical show either, with only 1 interception, 40 tackles and 2 passes defended. Obviously none of this means Okudah can’t be a success in the future, but it’s been a rougher go of it early than many might have expected for the No. 3 pick in the draft.
Lions Pass Rush Need Still Magnified
There’s no question that drafting Chase Young could have helped the Lions directly this season. The team is struggling to get any pressure on the pocket once again minus what has become a career year for Romeo Okwara. Detroit also has Trey Flowers in the mix, but he’s been dinged up the last few weeks and unable to make a huge impact on the game as much as expected. With just 13 sacks through Week 10, it has long been clear that the Lions could still use significant young pass rush help for now and into the future.
To the end, Young would have been a great selection for the Lions to help solve this problem of a pass rush up front. In time, the Lions can find their own stud pass rushers to enter into the fray, but if this draft event had happened, it might have been a lot easier to fast track the team’s defensive reconstruction.