The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away and it certainly will be one to remember. Aside from the virtual aspect (and seeing where Roger Goodell lives), the most interesting part of the draft lays in the hands of the Detroit Lions.
We’ve known for weeks, if not months, that LSU QB Joe Burrow will be drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals first overall and Ohio State EDGE Chase Young will go to the Washington Redskins at the second pick, barring something crazy. But the turning point in this draft starts at the third overall selection when the Lions are on the clock. There have also been rumors for weeks now that they are locked in on Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah, however selecting him at third overall would be the wrong decision.
The best plan for the Lions starts with trading the third overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for the fifth and 26th overall picks in 2020 and one of Miami’s 2021 second rounders. The Dolphins have been rumored to be in love with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa for over a year. Many other teams will be trying just as hard to trade up to get in position for Tagovailoa, and as I mentioned before, Cincinnati and Washington most likely won’t be trading out of their spots. So the Lions are in prime position to get a great haul of draft picks, and Miami is one of a select few teams with multiple first round picks this year, plus such a high first pick.
So, we now have Burrow first to the Bengals, Young second to the Redskins, Tagovailoa third to the Dolphins, and either Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons or Alabama OT Jedrick Wills to the New York Giants. Oregon QB Justin Herbert is the next QB up on most Big Boards, and the Los Angeles Chargers sitting at sixth overall have heavily been linked to him.
Whether it’s true or not, the Lions can call the Chargers and tell them they are fielding a lot of calls from teams looking to move up ahead of the Chargers to get Herbert, à la the Chicago Bears trading up one spot with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2017 draft to nab Mitch Trubisky, even though the 49ers did not want to draft him themselves. The Lions can get another haul for moving back just one spot (and not even lose the player they want), collecting the sixth and 71st picks in 2020 and a 2021 second rounder from the Chargers.
The Chargers would select Herbert, and the Lions could finally select Okudah, a player they wanted a third overall, with the sixth pick while collecting an additional four high draft picks. This would be highway robbery and one of the best draft day maneuvers since the movie Draft Day.
The Lions could then use the 26th overall pick bolstering their offensive line, with the selection of Michigan IOL Cesar Ruiz. This is a very weak IOL draft class and Ruiz is far and away the top guy, and is almost guaranteed to be off the board before the Lions pick again at 35th overall. This would then free up the Lions to take TCU DL Ross Blacklock at 35th overall, putting a massive yet athletic body in the middle of their defensive line.
Detroit can add to their defensive line again at 67th overall with Michigan EDGE Josh Uche. They need more pass rush on this roster than just Trey Flowers. With the last pick in 2020 from their trades, the Lions can select Florida State RB Cam Akers. Their starting RB, Kerryon Johnson, has a lot of talent, but he just can’t stay on the field. The Lions should take advantage of all their high draft picks this year to grab a very promising RB, and my fifth ranked RB in this class.
Below, I’ve outlined the trades and all of my picks for the Lions for the 2020 NFL Draft with their added selections. This outcome is very realistic, as the Lions are holding all of the cards in this draft. They can easily come away with this haul of draft picks if they play those cards right.
Lions trade: #3
Dolphins trade: #5, #26, 2021 second rounder
Lions trade: #5
Chargers trade: #6, #71, 2021 second rounder
Lions full draft:
#6 – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
#26 – Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan
#35 – Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU
#67 – Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
#71 – Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
#85 – Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State
#109 – Brandon Jones, S, Texas
#149 – Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas
#166 – Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina
#182 – James Morgan, QB, Florida International
#235 – Grayland Arnold, CB, Baylor