It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions more often do not fare well when sports analysts re-grade draft picks.
But this time, after another lackluster season, the Lions’ 2020 draft class had the biggest fall from grace in the league. Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner regraded all 32 teams’ picks and as he put it, these grades are really just for entertainment purposes. Though, I’m sure you’d agree the Lions’ drop isn’t all that entertaining.
For reference, here are Detroit’s 2020 picks:
- Round 1 (3): CB Jeffrey Okudah
- Round 2 (35): RB D’Andre Swift
- Round 3 (67): EDGE Julian Okwara
- Round 3 (75): G Jonah Jackson
- Round 4 (121): G Logan Stenberg
- Round 5 (166): WR Quintez Cephus
- Round 5 (172): RB Jason Huntley
- Round 6 (197): DI John Penisini
- Round 7 (235): DI Jashon Cornell
Now here’s what PFF said at the time, right after the 2020 draft. The article’s byline says it’s the entire staff, so these thoughts may not belong to Renner specifically. But for comparison’s sake:
“Okudah is a special cornerback prospect, a player who has allowed a completion percentage of 50% or better in each of the past three seasons. He has nearly as many forced incompletions over the last two years as he does first downs allowed. From athletic profile to production, it would be hard to draw up a better fit for Matt Patricia’s man-heavy coverage scheme than Okudah. “
And on Swift: “Is there something wrong with Kerryon Johnson that I don’t know of? I’m lost to explain why they would draft [Swift] here.”
And on Jackson: “Jackson is quite easily my favorite pass-protecting guard prospect in the entire draft.”
They awarded this draft class an A grade. However, based on a brutal 2020 season, that grade has fallen to a C. Here’s what they say now:
“We are not writing off this Detroit draft class by any means, however. Jonah Jackson showed signs of life in pass protection and finished with a 61.5 pass-blocking grade, while D’Andre Swift produced pretty much whenever given ample opportunity. Jeffrey Okudah should see a massive uptick in performance now that Matt Patricia is out as head coach.”
The commentary about Okudah fitting into Patricia’s scheme perfectly in 2020 and then — on second thought — Okudah will excel in 2021 because Patricia is out made me chuckle. Even PFF was as hopeful as us in 2020.
And onto the rest of your notes.
- PFF’s George Chahrouri offers his insights on some Week 1 matchups, suggesting the Lions will keep it close against San Francisco. (skip to 2:20)
- Matthew Stafford offers even more details about his trade and his time with the Lions in this special Q&A with the LA Times.
- ESPN’S Bill Barnwell predicts when each rookie quarterback will have their first start. He says while the Lions might avoid Trey Lance, Detroit could face Justin Fields for the first time.
- T.J. Hockenson is looking pretty great on PFF’s list of top tight ends heading into 2021.
- The guys over at The Athletic released the final installment of their sit down with the Lions’ coordinators. In this segment, they discuss Jamaal Williams with Anthony Lynn from his energy to his fit with D’Andre Swift. (Subscription required.)
- CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin ranked all 32 offenses with what appears to be a pretty extensive system, and spoiler alert the Lions came in dead last. Only up from here?
- What does each NFL team have to look forward to in 2021? For the Lions, the answer seems obvious, but I still enjoyed the commentary. “It’ll be a thrilling transition for a team that needs to shed its identity as an also-ran.” More from Bleacher Report.