While NFC North division rival Green Bay made the splash of the first round on Thursday night, the Detroit Lions will hope to stay solid as the 2020 NFL Draft continues on Friday night.
After failing to move down for extra picks and taking Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah at No. 3, the Lions then watched the Packers make the news of the night.
Green Bay traded up in the first round to No. 26 to select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, the heir apparent to 36-year-old Aaron Rodgers.
It was a move that mirrored the Packers picking Rodgers in 2005 to groom as a replacement for Brett Favre, who was 35.
That was the last time Green Bay picked a skill position player in the first round, a note not lost on the veteran quarterback.
The Lions, meanwhile, played it safe.
Despite no trade, Jeff Okudah gets high marks
Rumors swirled on Thursday that the Lions might be able to hit the jackpot: Trading down for extra picks while still getting Okudah or another elite defensive prospect.
General manager Bob Quinn reportedly had calls with Miami (No. 5) and Jacksonville (No. 9) throughout the day, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said “my understanding is they will have the opportunity” to slide down and get more picks.
That, apparently, proved to be false as Quinn later told the media he fielded calls Thursday but no offers.
Okudah is solid and will help, but fans who want signs of life from this team left disappointed.
Not only did the Lions miss out on three possible generational talents, but they couldn’t create a market to trade their pick despite two teams taking potential franchise quarterbacks right behind them.
So everyone got their man – quarterbacks Joe Burrow to Cincinnati, Tua Tagovailoa to Miami, Justin Herbert to the Los Angeles Chargers, and edge rusher Chase Young to Washington – including the Lions, as Okudah’s selection earned an ‘A’ from Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, who is sometimes a critic of the team.
Boring top selection fits Lions pattern in NFL Draft
As boring as the Okudah pick may have been, astute Lions’ fans probably should have seen it coming.
Quinn has a history of making vanilla selections in the first round.
In his previous four first rounds as Lions GM, Quinn has netted offensive tackle Taylor Decker (No. 16 in 2016), linebacker Jarrad Davis (No. 21 in ’17), center Frank Ragnow (No. 20 in ’18) and tight end T.J. Hockenson (No. 8 in ’19).
Those aren’t all busts, but outside of Decker, aren’t exactly positions teams typically use first round draft capital on.
Okudah fits the bill, as he is the highest cornerback drafted since 1997 when fellow Ohio State product Shawn Springs went No. 3 to Seattle.
Quinn known to surprise in second round
As nondescript as Quinn has usually been in the first round, he’s been flashy in the second.
His picks of defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, cornerback Teez Tabor, running back Kerryon Johnson and linebacker Jahlani Tavai have usually been the biggest talkers for the pundits, for better or worse.
Robinson was OK but he’s gone and Tabor was a colossal bust, while Johnson and Tavai look like possible strong selections in their short time in Detroit.
To provide any hope after a 3-12-1 season and boring offseason, Quinn needs to find a game-changer this weekend.
Plenty of roster holes to fill for Detroit Lions
With three picks on the second night of the NFL Draft, Quinn should have his chances.
The Lions have the third pick of the second round (No. 35), which begins at 7 p.m. EST, the third pick of the third (No. 67), and a third-rounder from Philadelphia as part of the Darius Slay trade (No. 85).
A couple of positions of need offer a variety of value for the Lions.
The defensive line is as bad as they come in the NFL. Edge rushers A.J. Epenesa of Iowa and Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State, or defensive tackles Ross Blacklock of TCU and Jordan Elliott of Missouri could help there.
The team is also weak on the offensive line after losing right-side starters Graham Glasgow and Rick Wagner this offseason.
Guard Robert Hunt of Louisiana-Lafayette or tackle Ezra Cleveland of Boise State could help with protecting Stafford there, though value suggests offensive line might be more of a third-round pursuit.
Detroit Lions NFL Draft: Splashy selections still out there
Starting spots might not be immediately available for skill position prospects in Detroit.
But building behind the likes of Johnson, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. will be smart for injury and contract concerns going forward.
With the third pick Friday, Detroit might have the opportunity to draft the first running back of the night and only second in the draft, or take another wide receiver after six went on Thursday night.
The FanDuel Sportsbook has set odds to who those picks could be.
D’Andre Swift of Georgia is the favorite to be the next running back selected at -330, with Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (+260), J.K. Dobbins of Ohio State (+550) and Cam Akers of Florida State (+1,300) following.
As for the deep crop of wide receivers, Denzel Mims of Baylor (+125) is favored to go next, followed by Tee Higgins of Clemson (+170), Michael Pittman Jr. of USC (+340), Laviska Shenault of Colorado (+420), Chase Claypool of Notre Dame (+1,400), Van Jefferson of Florida (+2,000) and KJ Hamler of Penn State (+2,600).
Maybe the most flashy pick for Quinn would be Swift, who FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook both set with an over-under of 39.5 for draft slot.
FanDuel sets the under as a -128 favorite with DraftKings making it -134.