The 100th season of NFL Football came to a close last night as the Kansas City Chiefs brought home their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years. Teams are now officially beginning to form their off-season plans, including their battle plans for the NFL Draft in April. The Detroit Lions have been looking at the NFL Draft since the season ended in late December, and the franchise finds themselves in a weird position.
While no stranger to the basement of the league, the Lions are picking in the top five for the first time since 2013. That selection, fifth overall, was made on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who held a great deal of potential but was never able to reach it in Detroit. This time around, Detroit holds the third overall selection, and have a ton of different avenues to go down. I can only speculate what Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia will do, and that’s what I am going to do right now.
With the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Jeff Okudah, defensive back, Ohio State
Other possibilities: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn; Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama; Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson; Trade down
The draft really starts with this pick. The Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins are likely to take Joe Burrow and Chase Young respectively. The Lions, however, can alter this draft in a major way. I see the Lions taking Jeff Okudah, the defensive back out of THE Ohio State University who recently received high praise from Darius Slay. Okudah allowed just 3.1 yards per target this season, which was 3.5 yards per target fewer than the FBS average. He’s big, athletic, able to run with receivers and is superb at preventing any separation. He has all of the physical skills to be a legitimate #1 corner in the NFL.
The Lions could also look to defensive lineman Derrick Brown or versatile linebacker Isaiah Simmons with this pick to bolster the defense. Another possibility, albeit rather controversial, is that the Lions draft standout quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of Alabama. This scenario depends entirely upon how the team views their current franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Stafford battled injuries for half of the 2019 season, and missed time for the first time since 2011. If Detroit doesn’t feel confident in Stafford’s health moving forward, but are confident Tua can bounce back from his devastating injury, then it is within the realm of possibility the Lions draft Tua.
They could also just trade down, rendering all of this meaningless.
With the 35th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Justin Madubuike, defensive lineman, Texas A&M
The Lions need to improve the front seven, and while it is something the team will address in free agency, I also see them looking to the draft. Madubuike, a junior, is a twitchy interior lineman that can disrupt the point of attack. He had impressive showings against Ole Miss and Georgia, and projects to be a high second round pick.
Detroit spent big on edge rusher Trey Flowers last off-season, and he will be around for a while. There are questions as it pertains to the future of star interior lineman Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who is contemplating retirement. If Snacks does opt to call it a career, the Lions could pick up Madubuike to pair with a veteran free agent signing to fill in the void. Madubuike could be an intriguing piece on the defensive line in the future.
With the 67th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Josh Uche, linebacker, Michigan
I was torn between whether the Lions would go offense or if they would stay on the defensive side of the ball. I settled on Uche due to the organization getting an up close look at him during the Senior Bowl. He seems to project as a designated pass rusher, but he was also seen locking down receivers in practice:
He was also the highest graded player at the Senior Bowl, which Uche’s team won 34-17. Matt Patricia, who coached Uche in that game, loves a player versatile enough to fly off the edge and be able to drop back as an outside linebacker. Uche provides him with such, and with an inside edge on what he’s about, the Lions taking Uche is a real possibility.
Featured Photo Credit: Mike Mulholland/MLive.com