Lions NFL Draft Recap

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Brendan Moore, Editor

The offseason is in full swing. With the NFL Draft a few weeks ago, the Lions added some valuable pieces to their roster. The Lions had seven picks to work with over the three day event in Cleveland. This was the first opportunity for new head coach Dan Campbell and new general manager Brad Holmes to impress the fans.

Round 1 Pick 7: OL Penei Sewell (Oregon)

The former Oregon Duck Penei Sewell fell down a few spots from where he was projected to go. Many experts predicted that he would go fifth to the Bengals, but Cincinnati chose to reunite wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase with his college quarterback Joe Burrow. Sewell only allowed one sack in his college career at Oregon. His size will help at 6’6” and 330 pounds. He was the top offensive lineman in the draft, and he should provide an immediate boost to a struggling but revamped offense.

Round 2 Pick 9: DL Levi Onwuzurike (Washington)

The Lions picked up another lineman with their second pick. This time it was on the defensive side. Alongside Penei Sewell, Onwuzurike also opted out of the 2020 fall college season due to COVID-19 concerns and draft preparations. However, Onwuzurike did post impressive numbers in the previous three years of his college career. He had 95 tackles, seven sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Onwuzurike is not the biggest defensive lineman, listed at 6’3”, but he has great quickness which he can use to get around the opposing offensive line.

Round 3 Pick 8: DL Alim McNeill (NC State)

Detroit continued to fill some slots in their biggest weakness with another lineman selection. Unlike Onwuzurike, Alim McNeill has a big frame at 6’2” 320 pounds. He will clog holes in the middle and could get double teamed which could lead to one-on-one opportunities for other defensive lineman to use to their advantage. McNeill had a solid college career. He totaled 77 tackles, 10 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. Alim McNeill will be a valuable asset to a struggling defense.

Round 4 Pick 7: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

The Lions went to a skill position with their fourth pick of the draft. Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a go to receiver for USC over the past three years. He even caught for over 1,000 yards in the 2019 season. The Lions are missing that go to receiver for quarterback Jared Goff to throw to in big moments after Kenny Golladay departed for New York. Amon-Ra St. Brown could be that guy. St. Brown is also very versatile. He can play the slot and on the outside for the Lions offense.

Round 4 Pick 8: DL Derrick Barnes (Purdue)

Detroit went back to the trenches for their next pick. Derrick Barnes was a three year starter for Purdue. He recorded 226 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss while in college. Barnes is a versatile player as he played defensive end and linebacker in college. Barnes can fit into whatever position that the Lions need, whether it is defensive end or linebacker. In fact, the Lions traded up in the draft to get Barnes. He is a solid addition to a defense that is weak at multiple positions.

Round 7 Pick 29: RB Jermar Jefferson (Oregon State)

The Lions went back to a skill position player with their final pick of the draft. Jefferson was a reliable three year starter at Oregon State. He posted 2,923 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns in college. With the release of running back and former second round draft pick Kerryon Johnson, this selection makes a lot of sense. The Lions could always use more depth and more weapons for a struggling offense. 

Overall, the Lions got what they wanted in the draft. They filled some voids, especially on the defensive line. They might have had the steal of the draft with Penei Sewell dropping all the way down to them at seven. The real test for Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes will come this fall. Can the Lions turn around and get back to winning ways or will they continue to be the same old Lions?