Hey Draftseasoners, it’s that time of year again. It is the time to look at a team’s every single free agent loss and gain. We will also look at their biggest needs and put a plan together of how they’ll attack the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. We will start with the lowly Cincinnati Bengals and work our way all the way up to the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. A team that always seems to be picking early is up today, and that’s the Detroit Lions.
DETROIT LIONS NFL DRAFT PLAN OF ATTACK
QB, CB, DT, WR, LB
FREE AGENT ACQUISITIONS:
QB Chase Daniel, LB Jamie Collins, DB Duron Harmon (Trade), S Jayron Kearse, S Miles Killebrew, DT Danny Shelton, CB Desmon Trufant, OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, DT Nick Williams
FREE AGENT LOSSES:
QB Jeff Driskel, RB J.D. McKissic, WR Jemaine Kearse, OT Rick Wagner, G Graham Glasgow, DT Damon Harrison, DT A’Shawn Robinson, LB Devon Kennard, CB Darius Slay, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Tavon Wilson, P Sam Martin
ROUND 1 TARGETS:
CB Jeffrey Okudah, QB Tua Tagovailoa, DT Derrick Brown, LB Isaiah Simmons
ROUND 2 TARGETS:
CB Jeff Gladney, CB Trevon Diggs, CB Noah Igbinoghene, CB A.J. Terrell, QB Jacob Eason, QB Jalen Hurts, OT Ezra Cleveland, OT Josh Jones, OT Austin Jackson, OT Isaiah Wilson, DT Neville Gallimore, DT Justin Madubuike, DT Raekwon Davis, WR Jalen Reagor, WR Denzel Mims, WR Brandon Aiyuk, WR Laviska Shenault Jr., G Cesar Ruiz, G Llyod Cushenberry
ROUND 3 TARGETS:
CB Tony Pride Jr., CB Bryce Hall, CB Amik Robertson, CB Javelin Guidry, OT Prince Tega-Wanogho OT Ben Bartch, OT Saahdiq Charles, DT Rashard Lawrence, DT Leki Fotu, QB Jake Fromme, WR Van Jefferson, WR KJ Hill, WR Michael Pittman Jr., WR Chase Claypool, G Netane Muti, G Solomon Kindley, G Shane Lemieux
PLAN OF ATTACK:
The Detroit Lions hold the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and they are widely expected to use it to take CB Jeff Okudah from Ohio State. That move makes a ton of sense. They traded away their best cornerback Darius Slay this offseason and could take Okudah to replace him. Okudah has the size, crazy good ball skills, and amazing movement and footwork. He is a ready-made starter who will step on the field immediately as a starter for the Lions. Hold your horses before you etch this pick in stone because there are a few other ways the Lions could go. They could take a disruptive force for the middle of their defensive line in Derrick Brown. They may also be tempted by the physical and versatile Isaiah Simmons, or they could look to the future. The future they could look to would be one without Matthew Stafford. Stafford is 32 years old and it would be very wise and savvy for the Lions to take his replacement at pick 3. The quarterback they’d be looking at would be Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama. They would need to be okay with his medicals, but he has all the physical tools and intangibles to be a very good NFL quarterback.
If the Lions do take Okudah at pick 3, then in Round 2 they could get a weapon for Matthew Stafford. They have a solid receiving trio of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola. The issue with that corps is that Jones is 30 years old and Amendola is 34. They need to get younger here. There should be a lot of good prospects on the board in the early parts of Round 2, and some names they could consider would be Jalen Reagor, Denzel Mims, Brandon Aiyuk, and Laviska Shenault Jr. The Lions also need help at defensive tackle. They could look at big Neville Gallimore early on Friday night. He can anchor against the run, and can also provide that much desired interior pressure. He has the potential to be a three-down defensive player and could be a solid starter for a long time. If the Lions don’t go with Okudah at 3, then they could look at Trevon Diggs, AJ Terrell, or Noah Igbinoghene, if any of those cornerbacks are available.
The Lions have two third-round picks after trading Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles. If they go with a corner and then a defensive tackle, they should first look to land a pass catcher. This is a very deep wide receiver class and there’s a strong chance a high-quality prospect is on the board. If USC’s Michael Pittman fell to the top of the second they should jump all over him. Pittman isn’t a burner by any stretch but he’s a big physical receiver, who can go up and make a play on the ball. He’d be an ideal replacement for Marvin Jones down the road and could carve a role early in his Lions’ career. If Pittman is gone, they could then look to add a receiver who could be dangerous out of the slot. Florida’s Van Jefferson and Ohio State’s KJ Hill are both quick-twitch receivers who are excellent route runners. They could be a force as rookies and would quickly earn the trust of Matt Stafford.
With their second third-round pick the Lions could look to find an offensive lineman. They brought in Halapoulivaati Vaitai and he’s expected to start for them at right tackle. He can play also guard, so they could go with the top guard or tackle that is on the board giving them the option to truly grab the best player. Some tackles they could look at would be small school stud Ben Bartch or LSU’s Saahdiq Charles. Guards they could find tempting would be big Netane Muti or Oregon’s Shane Lemieux. Either of these guys could vie for a starting job as a rookie and this Lions’ offensive line would be much improved from a season ago. The Lions could also land their QB of the future in the third round. Georgia’s Jake Fromm doesn’t have sexy physical tools but is a smart football player who is a great leader on the field. He could develop into a solid starter and be ready to take over from Stafford when his career comes to an end.
Round 1: CB Jeffery Okudah, Ohio State
Round 2: DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma
Round 3: WR Van Jefferson, Florida
Round 3: G Netane Muti, Fresno State