Elliott Byrd ‘22: The 2020 NFL Draft started on April 23 and finished on the 25th. Unfortunately, as everyone knows the 2019 season was not a successful one for the Lions, as they finished with three wins, twelve losses, and one tie. Fortunately, that record did come with one positive, the third overall pick in the Draft.
Leading up to the Draft most people had the Lions taking a defensive player, either Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, or Auburn’s Derrick Brown. With the departure of Darius Slay having a big factor in the decision, Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia decided on the lockdown corner Jeff Okudah with their first round pick. I personally thought this was the best decision and think Okudah can start for the Lions week one. The only knock on the pick is that they didn’t trade down. Bob Quinn wanted to trade down, but said that there were absolutely no offers to do so.
The 2020 draft class was very deep which meant the Lions had a ton of really good options to pick on the second day of the Draft. The Lions held the 35th overall pick and took Georgia Bulldog’s running back D’Andre Swift. Swift was Pro Football Focus’ best ranked running back in the draft. Some people may have wanted the Lions to address the defensive line with the pick but, I don’t think you could pass up on a player as talented as Swift in the second round. The Lions held two third round picks, their original, and another from the Golden Tate trade to the Eagles. With the 67th overall pick, the Lions took Julian Okwara, the brother of current Lions player Romeo. Julian was having a great season for Notre Dame until he broke his leg and was out for the season. If Okwara can bounce back from his injury he can be a deadly pass rusher for the Lions. Lots of experts were surprised Okwara lasted as long as he did. To finish off day two the Lions traded up with the Colts to receive the 75th overall pick and took Ohio State’s guard Jonah Jackson. The Lions desperately needed a guard and found a good one in Jackson. Jackson could possibly start for the Lions week one.
The Lions took five players on the last day of the Draft. The Lions traded down in the fourth round and got Kentucky guard, Logan Stenberg. Obviously, Bob Quinn was looking to bolster the Lions run game by taking a running back in round two and two guards back to back. In the 5th round, they took Wisconsin wideout, Quintez Cephus. After this pick, the Lions started to get the most criticism. A huge negative on Cephus is that he ran a 4.73 40 yard dash. Many people, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, did not like the pick and thought it was a reach. Personally, when I watched Wiscon games, Cephus jumped out and made some highlight plays every time he touched the bell. Cepheus uses his big frame nicely and possesses a great run after the catch ability. Lions first round selection, Okudah also said before the draft that Cephus was the toughest receiver he faced. The Lions finished out the draft by picking the speedster Jason Huntley who ran a 4.4 flat, John Penisini a defensive tackle from Utah, and finally Jashon Cornell another DT out of Ohio State.
Overall, I think Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia knocked this draft out the park. This was definitely the best draft the Lions had in a long time. The only negatives were that they didn’t address the defensive line more. The Lions still have a ton of cap space and can sign a guy like Eveson Griffin. I would give the Lions an A- draft grade. I really like Okudah and Swift, and think Okwara was a great find. I don’t think that the Cephus pick was as bad as people are making it out to be and think he can develop into a solid player. The run game should be really good next year, as well as the secondary. If Quinn had focused a little more on the D line the draft might have been perfect. I’m looking forward to seeing what Quinn does with the rest of free agency and hope that the Lions make a 49ers like jump next season.