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2020 NFL Draft: How John Penisini impacts the Detroit Lions roster

The Lions grabbed a run stuffer in the sixth round.

San Jose State v Utah Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

The Lions defensive line has been depleted this offseason, and the Lions are hoping that Utah defensive tackle John Penisini will provide some much-needed depth.

Player selected: John Penisini

Position: DT

Current players on roster at DT:

  • Da’Shawn Hand
  • John Atkins
  • Olive Sagapolu
  • Danny Shelton
  • Kevin Strong
  • Nick Williams

Offseason losses at DT:

  • Mike Daniels
  • Damon Harrison Sr.
  • Darius Kilgo
  • Jamie Meder
  • A’Shawn Robinson


The Lions defensive line will look much different in 2020. The team lost two starters in Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson, while free agent acquisition Mike Daniels failed to pan out. Da’Shawn Hand is the best of the bunch, with the ability to play inside and outside, while Danny Shelton is slated to be the starting nose tackle. Nick Williams is not a flashy name, but he provides a solid pass rushing option from the interior. After that, there are plenty of questions.

Penisini will likely challenge John Atkins and Kevin Strong for a spot on the roster, and the Lions will have to decide how many nose tackles they wish to carry. Last year, the Lions drafted nose tackle P.J. Johnson in the seventh round who did not make the roster, and Penisini could be in a similar situation. The Lions love run-stuffers, and Penisini can do that. The question now is whether or not he can show enough to fight off his competition.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.