The NFL Draft is a moment dreams come true for hundreds of players. No matter where they’re taken, it’s a moment they will always cherish and remember. There are no losers when it comes to those drafted, even if their name was called later than expected, because their dreams of becoming an NFL player have immediately come true.
Of course, for those players already in the NFL, the draft can be a source of stress or excitement. If your team is bringing in a complementary player, it could rise your game up. But if they’re bringing in someone who plays your position, it could mean you days on the roster are numbered.
So with that in mind, here are five winners and four losers from players that were already on the Lions roster but will now either have some stiff competition or will be enjoying the fruits of players that will ease the load off of them.
Winner: Matthew Stafford
The Lions continued their strive to improve the running game by adding two mauling guards and two running backs in this year’s class. What better way to heal a quarterback with a broken back than to finally ease the load off his shoulders?
And while both Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg should be aggressive in the running game, they also have nearly spotless records as pass protectors (though Stenberg spent most of his college career run blocking at Kentucky).
Loser: Ty Johnson
Drafting D’Andre Swift alone probably wouldn’t have put Johnson’s job in jeopardy, but when the Lions drafted New Mexico State’s Jason Huntley in the fifth round, Johnson officially got bumped to the roster bubble. Huntley has a lot of the same traits that Johnson does—mainly, speed and kick return abilities—and that means we’re going to have an intense camp battle. But it looks like Johnson is up for the challenge:
I really am actually— Ty Johnson (@T_Johns6) April 25, 2020
Winner: Taylor Decker
Some believed the Lions may be in the offensive tackle market, seeing as Decker was entering the final year of his rookie deal and Halapoulivaati Vaitai could be moved inside. However, the Lions didn’t add a single offensive tackle on draft day nor in their UDFA class.
That could very well mean that Decker is headed for a pay day this summer. In 2019, Decker became a team captain and finished the season as one of the top pass-blocking left tackles in the NFL.
Loser: Jamal Agnew
With now Ty Johnson and Jason Huntley in the mix for kick returner, Agnew’s job is in serious jeopardy. While Agnew enjoyed a bounceback season last year, returning a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown, it’s time to admit that special teams have become a lesser part of the game. To earn a roster spot, you need to be able to provide more, and Agnew hasn’t shown he’s capable of adding something on defense yet.
Meanwhile, general manager Bob Quinn is already seeing a J.D. McKissic type of role for Huntley on offense.
“He’s a guy that you get him in space—J.D. McKissic’s a good example,” Quinn said of Huntley.
If Huntley and/or Johnson can prove they’re more than a special teams player, Agnew will have to, too.
Winner: Kenny Golladay
In a draft class that was chock-full of wide receiver talent, the Lions waited until the fifth round to add one. While Jeff Okudah and Gil Brandt are big fans of Quintez Cephus, the rookie out of Wisconsin isn’t likely to play a big part of Detroit’s offense in 2020 or likely even 2021.
So if there was any doubt that Golladay was heading for a contract extension this offseason, Detroit’s decision not to add any serious competition pretty much puts an end to that. Coming off an NFL-leading 11 touchdowns in 2019, Golladay is about to get paid.
Loser: Beau Benzschawel
After the Lions let Graham Glasgow hit free agency, it looked like everyone’s favorite 2019 undrafted free agent signing may get a shot at one of the Lions’ starting guard jobs. But after the Lions re-signed veteran free agents Kenny Wiggins and Oday Aboushi and followed it up by drafting Jackson and Stenberg, Benzschawel will have to work his butt off just to land a roster spot at this point.
Winner: Romeo Okwara
I mean, come on. This is a moment neither will ever forget:
Loser: John Atkins
The role of backup nose tackle was Atkins’ to lose up until the moment the Lions drafted John Penisini in the sixth round of the draft. And while Atkins is still likely to be the favorite to win the job, as the coaching staff likes him a lot, he’ll have to improve upon a pretty poor 2019 season to beat out Penisini in training camp.
Winner: Jesse James
With as poor as the 2020 tight end draft class was (don’t tell the Chicago Bears), there was likely never a chance that James’ job was in jeopardy. But the Lions didn’t add a tight end at all this offseason until signing undrafted free agent Hunter Bryant on Saturday night.
That means that despite a disappointing 2019 season, James is expected to be a significant contributor this year. Given his contract situation ($8.3 million in dead cap), he was never going to be released, but it looks like Detroit is confident in giving him a big role.