After the first couple weeks of free agency, the Detroit Lions’ needs for the 2020 NFL Draft are becoming crystal clear. With the trade of Darius Slay and the countless additions elsewhere on the defensive side of the ball, mock draft are about to get really boring for the next three weeks.
Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah was already a bit of a match made in heaven for the Lions. He’s the perfect size the Lions like, he would’ve filled a primary need for Detroit even if they hadn’t traded Slay, and his college production warrants the value of the third overall pick.
“Okudah would bring ball skills, size and versatility to a defense that was exploited last season to the tune of 284.4 passing yards allowed per game,” McShay wrote. “His athleticism is elite, and I’d expect him to excel in man coverage at the next level.”
But worry not, this is not simply another boring “look at who picked Okudah to the Lions” mock draft post. McShay took his latest mock into the second round this time, and with Detroit’s next pick, the ESPN analyst added some interior offensive line help.
With the Lions’ 35th pick, McShay took Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.
“The Lions lost Graham Glasgow in free agency, and they could find a replacement early on Day 2,” McShay wrote. “Ruiz is my top-ranked center, and the Lions were middle of the pack in 2019 in both rushing offense and pass protection.”
While McShay appears to ignore the existence of Frank Ragnow here—who the Lions undoubtedly like better at center than at guard—this pick still makes some sense. Ruiz started five games at right guard for Michigan in his freshman year, before taking over as the team’s center for the following two seasons.
Ruiz is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree who was not credited with an allowed sack his entire 2019 season per PFF. He’s also got a near-elite athletic profile:
Cesar Ruiz is a OC prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Michigan.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 29, 2020
He posted a great #RAS with good size, great speed, elite explosiveness, okay agility at the OC position.https://t.co/745VzCYzLH pic.twitter.com/UWDZZLdt1I
Recently, our own Kent Lee Platte listed Ruiz as a “great” potential Day 2 pick for the Lions, but mostly because of the scarcity of good interior offensive linemen in this draft class.
“This is a bit higher than I’d like to take Ruiz, but let me be totally straight... this IOL class is really bad,” Platte wrote. “If you miss out on Ruiz or Lloyd Cushenberry III, you’re out of luck.”
After letting Graham Glasgow hit free agency, the Lions don’t appear to have a player in place to take over at right guard. Though they re-signed veteran backup Oday Aboushi, the Lions did not add any outside talent other than a roll of the dice with Josh Garnett, a former 2016 first-round pick that hasn’t started since his rookie season due to injuries and poor play.
Ruiz fills an immediate need and replaces one Michigan Man with another. How would you feel about an Okudah-Ruiz combo for Detroit’s first two picks?
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