I felt really good about this draft, and so did just about everyone else — the national consensus for the Detroit Lions was that they had one of the best drafts in the league. That’s easy to say when none of the players have touched the field yet, but I truly believe the Lions got a nice haul of talent at places where those rookies can shine in their first year and beyond. For the most part, that is.
Question of the day: Which draft pick will have the least impact in Year 1?
My answer: Chase Lucas.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the pick, but there’s only so much complaining you can do about a seventh-round selection. Or is there? Here’s what I had to say in our 2022 Draft Superlatives:
The Lions had a plethora of fringe guys playing cornerback last season, many of whom stepped up to the occasion and played well enough to be an incumbent for CB. Okudah and Amani are your starters, but beyond that things get really murky. Ifeatu Melifonwu will be looking for a rebound sophomore year, while AJ Parker, Jerry Jacobs, and Bobby Price try to replicate last year’s success. Investing in safety this off-season means Will Harris will get to continue his shot at cornerback, and we still don’t have any idea how Mike Hughes fits into the group. Add in Chase Lucas and this is probably the murkiest position group out of them all, and I don’t like it. You’re gonna have to end up cutting at least one or two players who likely should’ve stuck to the bottom of the roster otherwise, and odds are it’s not going to be the guy you spend a sixth-round draft pick on. I just don’t see the need for spending that draft capital on a guy who probably isn’t gonna make much of a difference compared to your current CB 4/5.
Now, my distaste for the pick aside, there’s very little room for impact with the pick barring Lucas somehow being way better than his draft position. In the most likely scenario this year, lightning won’t strike the same place twice and the Lions should be in much better position when it comes to the health and the depth of their secondary. That means the last cornerback on the roster isn’t going to see the field often, or at all.
The most likely game action they’d see is special teams, but cornerbacks aren’t usually the go-to special teamers when you have safeties or faster linebackers (enter Malcolm Rodriguez) who are likely more able tacklers.
That issue brings up the worst-case scenario for Lucas, and one that I think is not terribly unlikely: he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, in which case the impact he can have shrinks even more. While that’s never a good start for a draft pick, the scenario I laid out in the excerpt above is exactly why I could see that happening, and I don’t see Lucas outcompeting a guy like Jerry Jacobs or Bobby Price for a spot on special teams.
The most realistic scenario for Lucas is one in which he makes the 53-man roster but spends most, if not all, on the inactives list. The best-case likely means he’s forced into action by injury, which is not a very bright outcome to look at. Worst case, he fails to make the team and spends the season on the practice squad. Odds don’t look good for Lucas to make any sort of splash in year one.
Which draft pick will make the least impact in Year 1? Let’s hear your pick.