The NFL 2020 draft starts on Thursday night here in the UK (more accurately Friday morning) and I cannot wait. The fact that the draft will be held at all is miraculous given the Covid-19 era that we are now in, but also its the ONLY sporting event which is on and worth following right now. The virtual element adds some further intrigue, especially since apparently the mock run through saw the Bengals run into technical issues with the no.1 overall pick! I also think there will be much less bravado and showmanship, and much more focus on analysis which is far more interesting than people in costumes.
In my previous post, I reviewed my previous posts about the state of the Lions roster by grading each position type, and identifying the roster needs, which were as follows:
I will now go through the draft prospects in conjunction with the Lions picks, in order to see how Detroit can fill these needs and other potential best available picks.
(For the purpose of this post, I'm going to assume that Free Agency is complete and there will be no more signings in that regard (I think this is a stupid assumption in reality, but since future signings are uncertain and unpredictable, the only assumption to make) and so I will need to fill all the gaps I identified).
Detroit's picks currently stand as follows:
The leading options at each identified positional group, along with the average draft position (according to ESPN's draft prediction model):
Chase Young (Ohio State), 2.2
K'lavon Chaisson (LSU), 20.2
Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State), 28.3
A.J.Epenesa (Penn State), 30.6
Josh Uche (Baylor), 57.8
Jeffrey Okudah (Ohio State), 4
C.J. Henderson (Florida), 16.1
A.J. Terrell (Clemson), 30.9
Jaylon Johnson (Utah), 43.7
Kritstian Fulton (LSU), 44.8
Cesar Ruiz (Michigan), 40.2
Netane Muti (Fresno State), 67.4
Robert Hunt (Louisiana), 117.7
Damien Lewis (LSU), 118.3
Ben Bredeson (Michigan), 122.0
OT (included in the case that Detroit shift Vaitai to RG, or a drafted tackle to guard)
Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), 7.5
Mekhi Becton (Louisville), 10.0
Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama), 11.0
Andrew Thomas (Georgia), 14.9
Josh Jones (Houston), 30.5
D'Andre Swift (Georgia), 35.4
Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), 37.0
J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State), 51.2
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), 59.2
1st Round Pick
The most interesting thing in the whole draft for Detroit is what happens to the number 3 overall pick.
Most mock drafts on NFL.com have Detroit remaining at 3 and taking the majority acclaimed "best corner available" in Jeff Okudah from Ohio State, but many caveat this by stating that they actually expect Detroit to trade down out of this pick, either to the Dolphins at 5, the Chargers at 6 or Las Vegas at 12. By most accounts he is a Pro Bowl calibre corner already, who excels at Man-to-Man coverage, which makes Detroit's M2M based defense a terrific fit, the main reason why most analysts mock Okudah at 3 to Detroit. He fills an immediate need at CB1A, with Trufant better than CB2 standard but not quite CB1A standard either, but many fans on twitter seem to agree that taking a corner at 3 seems like a reach.
Other options remaining at 3 are the consensus best player available in the draft in Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State), Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn), Isaiah Simmons (LB/S/EDGE, Clemson) and Tristan Wirfs (RT, Iowa).
Chase Young happens if Joe Burrow (QB, LSU) goes 1 as expected to the Bengals and either Washington chose, or trade down to a team choosing Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama) at 2.
I do not expect Detroit to take either Brown or Simmonds at 3, despite them being options. Brown is mocked to go at an average of 7.7, and Simmonds at 5.8, which makes them both ripe for a trade back pick if Detroit deal out of the third pick as above.
Expected pick (assuming no trade): Okudah
Dream pick: Young
2nd Round Pick
Assuming there are no trades, Detroit next picks at 35, early in the second round. Assuming Okudah or Young are the picks, and looking at the needs and average mock positions, the natural picks for value appear to be:
Josh Jones (OT, Houston), 30.5
A.J.Epenesa (Edge, Penn State), 30.6 (If Okudah taken)
A.J. Terrell (CB, Clemson), 30.9 (If Young taken)
Austin Jackson (OT, USC), 32.5
D'Andre Swift (RB, Georgia), 35.4
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin), 37.0
Although one of the running backs identified above would be great value at this pick, it's no good if the line can't protect Stafford, nor effect a good running game. Behind a good line, a lot of backs can produce - look at San Francisco last year and their array of cheap and effective RBs.
Unfortunately I think that Epenesa will go late in round 1 as above, and the same with Terrell but if either fall this low I expect Detroit to take them.
Expected pick: Austin Jackson
Dream pick: Either Epenesa or Terrell
Beyond this point the draft because pot luck for my knowledge of the game, I don't watch a lot of college ball, just reading analysis from first hand sources, so I won't mock further assuming no trades, and instead look at the more creative ways Detroit can get most from this draft.
There are several trades which are purported to be on the table. I think a few of these are just people seeing what ammunition people have to move up rather than actual interest in moving up, but it's fun to speculate!
The most popular theories are as follows:
1) Miami trade 5 and 39 and receive 3 in return.
This provides Detroit with another high 2nd round pick and allow Detroit to follow the above plan, but hopefully take Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor) 34.7, Ross Blacklock (DT, TCU) 30.5, Cesar Ruiz (C/IOL, Michigan), 40.2 or ammunition to package a 2nd and a 3rd into a late 1st round pick. Okudah will probably still be available at 5, and if not Isaiah Simmonds will be (because the 4th pick will be Okudah in that circumstance).
2) LA Chargers trade 6 and 37, and an unspecified 2021 pick in return for the 3rd pick.
This scenario runs similar to the above. Miami are unlikely to pick anything other than QB or OT at 5, the Giants will select OT, QB, Okudah, Derrick Brown or Simmonds and Detroit pick up the remaining player of those listed.
3) LV Raiders trade 12, 19 and a 2021 2nd round pick, receiving the 3rd pick in return.
This scenario is more unlikely because it's such a big drop down for Detroit out of the top 10, but 19 is a high 1st round pick, and the 2021 2nd is likely to be a good pick too unless Vegas sorts themselves out after a poor 2019.
In this scenario, Detroit could select at 12 Derrick Brown (DT), Javon Kinlaw (DT, Auburn), 15.0, or a franchise WR (Jeudy, Lamb, Ruggs could all be available here) at 12, and at 19 either K'lavon Chaisson (LSU) 20.2, C.J. Henderson (Florida) 16.1, a WR as listed above, or Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU, 21.9) may come into the mix, or it could stimulate a further trade down to accumulate picks.
In short, the scenarios become a lot more interesting and complex with a trade down - pundits are split basically 50:50 on whether Okudah or a trade down will happen.
That said, I absolutely cannot wait for this to happen tonight. Please hit me up on Twitter @roarofthelionsuk1 - maybe we can even have a Zoom conversation during!
Restore the Roar guys!