After the Lions recorded their worst record (3-12-1) since 2012 last season, rumors circulated around the job status of general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia.
Owner Martha Ford has since provided a vote of confidence that they were both secure for the 2020 season.
With heightened expectations and better results expected, the 2020 NFL Draft was a vital part of potentially helping the team return to contention in the NFC. In this new series, I will analyze quotes that stuck out the most from executives’ pre- and post-draft press conferences.
Question: Were there any offers for the third pick and how close were you to trading out of that spot?
Quinn: “We had a lot of conversations, but we never got a firm offer. No team put anything on the table; had multiple conversations with multiple teams. They were kind of fishing around and we were open for business as you guys know, and nothing was ever put out in front of us to evaluate. I’ve told you guys a lot, it takes two teams to make a trade. So, unfortunately, we were open and willing to move back a little bit, and we felt like we had a group of players that we really liked that we could have gotten if we moved back. But we stood pat, took the best player we felt could help our team, and we’re excited to have Jeff.”
Analysis: The third-overall pick was seen as the starting point of the 2020 draft. With Joe Burrow and Chase Young widely viewed as the top two selections, respectively, no one really knew which route the Lions were going to take. They had a prime opportunity to trade back and accumulate more picks for a roster that desperately needed it or selected the player that they originally wanted in Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. In the end, the risk outweighed the reward, and Quinn felt as if another team would've possibly snagged the Buckeye star if the team risked trading back too far.
Question: What was the line of thinking behind taking D'Andre Swift?
Quinn: "Going to bed last night, he was the guy that was on my mind the most so I was hoping that we could get him and we stood pat there and you never know. The draft’s hard to predict as you guys know, but I felt very fortunate that he was there. He's a different kind of back. Little bit shorter, little bit thicker. Runs lower to the ground. This guy’s really good in the open field. Makes guys miss in space. Big-play ability. Catches the ball well out of the backfield. Good route runner. So, different."
Analysis: Most draft experts had trouble with slotting a running back in the first round. The NFL nearly agreed as the first rusher didn't come off of board until the final selection in the opening round when Clyde Edwards-Helaire was selected by the Chiefs. The Lions picked the next running back in Georgia’s Swift.
He was widely seen as the top player at the position, and Quinn was shocked to still see him on the board during the team’s selection. Kerryon Johnson returns as the Lions’ top running back, but he's been unable to stay healthy throughout his career dating back to his days at Auburn. Detroit needed a more dynamic option and took the best-player-available approach even though there wasn't a pressing need at that spot.
Question: Consistency has always been a worry with Julian Okwara. What made you so confident in drafting him and can the relationship with Romeo (older brother and current Lions defensive end) help him in the long run?
Quinn: "I believe that since they’re relatives they can probably live together so maybe he gets a helping hand with the playbook. But we’ll see. He’s a smart kid anyways. He knows football. But it’s obviously helpful, right, to have someone that’s been in the system for a couple of years at your disposal."
Analysis: In the NFL, we always see teams make attempts to pair players with familiar surroundings and that's the exact direction that the Lions demonstrated by selecting Okwara. Consistency has been a never-ending battle for him, and he’s struggled as a run defender, and with the offseason being a bit different due to the pandemic; having a familiar aid by his side could help him reach his potential that some thought he could reach in the proper situation.