Over the course of the past week the NFL Draft took place in the form of a video-conference which was nationally televised. For sports fans everywhere, myself included, the draft was a much needed fill for our hunger for sports.
Needless to say, the Lions have been much less than average over the past few seasons. Coming off of a 3-12-1 season in 2019, the Lions desperately needed an above average draft to have any hope of being relevant next season, should there even be one. And with a top-5 pick at their disposal, the Lions had little room for error.
In this article I will be giving each of the Lions’ selections a letter grade based on the overall talent of the player and how I think they will fit into the team. After a few trades, the Lions ended up holding the #3, 35, 67, 75, 109, 121, 166, 172, and 197 picks.
#3 OVERALL PICK: JEFF OKUDAH, CB, OHIO STATE.
With the third pick in the NFL draft, the Lions took cornerback Jeff Okudah out of Ohio State. I think this is a great pick, Okudah is a top five player in this year's draft and with the departure of Darius Slay, the Lions really needed to bolster their secondary. Even though I think the Lions could have traded down a couple of spots and still got Okudah, I also think he was the right pick. Picks I would’ve also been okay with at this spot are LB Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson and DT Derrick Brown out of Auburn.
PICK RATING: A
#35 OVERALL PICK: D’ANDRE SWIFT, RB, GEORGIA.
Now here’s a guy whose name says it all. With the 35th pick the Lions selected their running back of the future in D’Andre Swift. The Lions already have Kerryon Johnson at running back but he has been prone to injury and the Lions could use a second skilled back. I would’ve liked the Lions to maybe address their defensive line issues with this pick instead of taking a running back, but Swift is still an exceptional player.
PICK RATING: A-
#67 OVERALL PICK: JULIAN OKWARA, LB, NOTRE DAME.
With the 67th pick the Lions selected Julian Okwara out of Notre Dame. It’s true that the Lions had a need at linebacker, but again I really would’ve liked to see them pick a defensive tackle here. I would’ve been perfectly fine with the Lions taking defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton out of Ohio State at this pick. Okwara is crafty and helps bolster the defense alongside Jeff Okudah, and is an alright pick at #67.
PICK RATING: B+
#75 OVERALL PICK: JONAH JACKSON, G, OHIO STATE.
Another selection from Ohio State, and I like this pick. Since the days of Barry Sanders the Lions have been known for having an extremely poor run game. This stems from poor offensive blocking, and Jackson fills that hole. With Swift now in the backfield, I don’t blame the Lions for wanting to make a pick that will protect their future starting running back. Jackson is an absolute unit and not a bad pick at all.
PICK RATING: B+
#109 OVERALL PICK: JOHN SIMPSON, G, CLEMSON.
Not much to say about this pick, as it’s very similar to the last one. Grabbing a talented offensive lineman from a very successful program to help protect Matt Stafford and company next season. Nothing wrong with grabbing another O-lineman with this pick.
PICK RATING: B
#121 OVERALL PICK: LOGAN STENBURG, G, KENTUCKY
This pick has the same reasoning as the last two. Although, Stenburg is arguably less talented than the previous two picks. I can see the previous two picks being ready to be on the field within a year or two, whereas Stenburg might take more time to develop. I don’t hate this pick, but I do think the Lions could have utilized it better by taking defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence out of LSU.
PICK RATING: C+
#166 OVERALL PICK: QUINTEZ CEPHUS, WR, WISCONSIN
In the later rounds you have to start reaching. The Lions reached a bit with Cephus, but he is a good talented receiver. The Lions already have a good receiving core of Golladay, Jones, and Hockenson so Cephus won’t likely see the field very much in his first season. It’s an okay pick, Cephus is really a 50/50 type pick. He could work out, he might not. Not bad for this late in the draft.
PICK RATING: B-
#172 OVERALL PICK: JASON HUNTLEY, RB, NEW MEXICO STATE
This pick was pretty questionable. The Lions had yet to address the defensive line issue in this draft by taking a DT, and instead took another running back even though they took Swift earlier. Huntley will likely be 4th in the depth chart, and to me seems to be a big reach. In the Lions’ defense there weren’t many defensive options this late in the draft, so I don’t despise this pick.
PICK RATING: C-
#197 OVERALL PICK: JOHN PENISINI, DT, UTAH
Finally, a defensive tackle. Penisini is a good selection at this point in the draft and also addresses a need at defensive tackle. Penisini could develop in the next few years, but it’ll take time to see if this pick ever amounts to much.
PICK RATING: B-
#235 OVERALL PICK: JASHON CORNELL, DE, OHIO STATE
I like this pick. The Lions definitely upgraded their defense after this draft and Cornell will be eager to play with Okudah. It’s unlikely he’ll see the field very much in his first year but I don’t hate this pick. This late in the draft it was nice to get another defensive line player, especially from a powerhouse like Ohio State.
PICK RATING: C+/B-
In the end I think the Lions had a pretty good draft. I think their first four to five picks will have an immediate impact on the field next season and give a good infusion of youth to a team that desperately needs it. To be frank, the Lions will probably have another down year next season, but if they don’t I would credit it to some of the rookies they drafted in this draft.
OVERALL DRAFT GRADE: B+