Detroit Lions May Scouting Report
Mostly positive reviews for the Lions draft. No huge surprises in my opinion. They traded up in round 3 and traded down in round 4. Oddly enough I looked at my notes from last year’s draft and sure enough, the Lions traded up in round 3 and down in round 4. I am sensing a pattern here. Let’s look at the picks.
1.3 (3) CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State. Remember, CB Darius Slay was one of the top corners in the league, and he could lock up an opponent’s top receiver often enough that it was something to factor into your fantasy football lineup decisions. With Slay getting traded in March, it made Okudah the most obvious pick all along, and the Lions are happy to get him. I’m sure there will be a learning curve, but the expectation is that he will be an elite corner in this league. The only criticism was from fans who thought they could have traded down and still got Okudah, but Bob Quinn claimed there were no offers. Others were disappointed that the Lions didn’t take Tua, but with a coach and GM fighting for their jobs this year, Tua was never likely here. The Lions gave up the most passing yards in the league last year, and tied for the fewest interceptions.
2.3 (35) RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia. In my report last month, I said I would strongly consider taking a running back at 35, so I kind of feel like I called this one. I thought Swift would be the only running back to go in round 1, but with the Chiefs opting for Edwards-Helaire, Swift was there for the Lions and I like it – he was the top back in the draft according to many. It figures to be a time share between Swift and RB Kerryon Johnson so fantasy owners won’t be too pumped up for that. As we look a little deeper into Swift’s scouting report, we see he is short at 5’8 but at 212 pounds he isn’t small. Georgia has been a running back factory over the years, and Swift wasn’t overworked in college. He is also a very good receiver, with 73 catches on 90 targets in his three years at Georgia and he reportedly has great hands. I like to throw out hard to believe Lions stats every now and then, and here is one of them: it is truly mind boggling that since Barry Sanders retired in 1999, the Lions have not finished a season in the upper half of the league in rushing yardage. Can Swift help change that?
3.3 (67) EDGE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame. The Lions already have Romeo Okwara on the roster, so it wasn’t a surprise that they drafted his brother Julian. He had a leg injury last season so if we assume he is fully healed, this could be a steal. I pointed out above how bad the Lions pass defense was last year, and a big part of that was a lack of pass rush. Okwara figures to be a rotational pass rusher as a rookie with double digit sack potential down the road.
3.11 (75) G Jonah Jackson, Ohio State. The Lions traded up to get Jackson. He transferred from Rutgers to Ohio State for his senior year. The Lions actually used a three man rotation at guard last year and if that continues this year, Jackson should at least be the substitute guard. Or he could start at right guard.
4.3 (109) G Logan Stenberg, Kentucky. This was maybe a bit of a surprise that they went with back to back guard picks. I thought they might look for a developmental tackle. Stenberg has a reputation of a nasty player. Kentucky was a run oriented offense last year, and the Lions picking Swift and two guards looks like they are trying yet again to fix their eternal running game issues.
5.21 (166) WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin. Getting a receiver somewhere in this draft was expected, but there were some mixed opinions on this pick to say the least, especially considering this was such a deep draft for receivers. I was hoping they would have ended up with someone better than this guy. Cephus had some off the field baggage at Wisconsin, he ran a very slow 40 at the combine and he doesn’t have great size at 6’1. But the belief is that he plays better than his measurables. Best case scenario as a rookie would see him beating out WR Geronimo Allison and WR Marvin Hall for the 4th receiver role.
5.27 (172) RB Jason Huntley, New Mexico State. This guy is a bit of an unknown coming from New Mexico State. He is small at 5’8, 182, but he made a splash as a return man in college. I think the Lions are looking at him as a Darren Sproles type of all purpose weapon who could see spot action on offense along with kick and punt returning. This could be bad news for RB Ty Johnson, who the Lions drafted in round 6 last year.
6.18 (197) DT John Penisini, Utah. 7.21 (235) DE Jashon Cornell, Ohio State. Lumping these guys together because what you see if what you get. Late round picks to complete for backup jobs on the defensive line. Penisini is a run stuffer and Cornell, the third Buckeye picked by the Lions in this draft, could be tried in multiple roles.
UDFA (skill positions only): FB Luke Sellers, South Dakota State. TE Hunter Bryant, Washington. The Lions 90 man roster was almost full after their 9 draft picks, and that was by design. They weren’t interested in signing a large quantity of undrafted guys this year with such an uncertain offseason. Bryant is worth watching though. He was rated as someone who could go as early as round 3, but it sounds like there might have been some injury concerns that caused him to slip. He could complete for the third tight end spot behind TE TJ Hockenson and TE Jesse James.
That’s it for this month. I will be back next month with a new report including a look at the schedule and any other news that develops from the virtual offseason.
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Sunday, September 13th, 2020
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