Over the next few years, the Detroit Lions are going to be relying heavily on their 2020 draft class. With four picks in the top 75, Detroit is hoping they’ve created a nice nucleus for the future of this franchise.
But which one of these picks will make an immediate impact. More and more often, it seems like teams are getting instant payoffs with their rookies, and for the Lions that looks like it could be the case, too. Their top four picks are all expected to contribute immediately, to varying degrees.
We continue our 2020 Detroit Lions preview series today with our picks for the Lions Rookie of the Year.
(Editor’s Note: Everyone—besides Jeremy—submitted their predictions before the Adrian Peterson signing.)
Kyle Yost: D’Andre Swift
The bar is just too high for Jeff Okudah heading into the year. I would not be surprised if he holds his own down the stretch, but there will certainly be some growing pains early on. That is not the case for Swift, who should be able to come in and dazzle right away. I expect the backfield to be a committee for most of the season, but Swift should put up plenty of highlights.
Hamza Baccouche: Jonah Jackson
Jonah Jackson should get it, but D’Andre Swift does. If Swift does, then that means Jackson has done his job. He’s already getting significant rotation with the ones in training camp. Ohio State players are as NFL ready as they come. As much as I want to say Jeff Okudah, the learning curve cornerback is much steeper in the NFL than that of guard.
John Whiticar: Julian Okwara
I think it will be Julian Okwara, but I think it speaks more to the rest of the draft class. I don’t expect Okudah to get thrust into the starting role, partly due to my expectations for Amani Oruwariye. Swift will split carries with Kerryon Johnson at best, and he remains a pick I just can’t get excited about. I can’t give the rookie of the year award to a guard, given that we’ll likely see a rotation again. The remaining players will get minimal playing time. Okwara benefits from little pass rushing talent on this team, so he could easily impress.
Chris Perfett: Julian Okwara
I know he’s not a starter, but I expect plenty of rotation on the defense to start the year. Okwara is going to have time to prove he can make damn big plays. He’s also got the incredible X-Factor—a brother on the same team. Have you ever had a brother competing with you? Good God, it’s hell. It’s the closest thing to being tossed into an oubliette with a starving jackal. Okwara has to do it, because if he doesn’t, Romeo Okwara is going to let him hear it at every family meal.
Justin Simon: Jonah Jackson
D’Andre Swift is the easy pick on the surface, but I’m going with Jonah Jackson. This pick will either make me look like a hero or a dud. Because if Jackson starts all 16 games as a rookie and plays well, then that is well worth the round pick the Lions used to pick him in the spring. If he struggles to perform, I’ll look like a fool for making this pick at the end of the season.
Kellie Rowe: D’Andre Swift
Okudah is likely going to be the popular vote, but I’m going D’Andre Swift with this one. This is the year the running game gets back on track. The Lions spent a second-round pick on Swift and clearly plan to use him. Let’s never hope anything at all happens to Kerryon Johnson but God forbid patterns repeat themselves, Swift will be even more vital than expected.
Ryan Mathews: Jonah Jackson
It seems as though the Lions are going to smartly bring Jeff Okudah along slowly to the NFL, so I don’t know if he’ll play enough to be considered for Rookie of the Year. I was a huge fan of the Jonah Jackson pick back in April, and I think he’s going to help solidify the interior of the Lions offensive line, so I’m going with him.
Andrew Kato: Jonah Jackson
Jonah Jackson will be a non-rotational starter at right guard. We’re talking Larry Warford circa 2013. Jackson was installed with the first team early in camp and never seriously challenged, judging by what was said by beat reporters over the last two weeks.
Mike Payton: D’Andre Swift
It’s going to be D’Andre Swift. Look for the rookie running back to add a whole new wrinkle to this offense with his ability to catch the ball and do something with it. On top of that, he’s able to run between the tackles. Bob Quinn really scored a steal with Swift and it will show in 2020.
Jeremy Reisman: Jeff Okudah
I was ready to pick D’Andre Swift like the majority of my cohorts, as I believe the Lions were planning on making him RB1 very early in the season. However, the recent addition of Adrian Peterson may slow their plans with him.
Either way, Jeff Okudah needs some love here. Though he had a slow start to training camp, his improvement was sudden and significant. He may not be a starter in Week 1, but it’s only a matter of time before we see why this guy was the No. 3 overall pick. I think he’ll be shutting down wide receivers by November at the latest.
Who will be the Lions’ Rookie of the Year?
This poll is closed