3 Wolverines for Lions to Target in 2020 NFL Draft
It won’t happen with Detroit’s first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft -- an imminent top-10 pick.
However, the Lions could see themselves targeting a few prospects in the draft from the University of Michigan.
With numerous draft-eligible Wolverines still undecided on their draft status, there’s potential for these prospects to return to Ann Arbor for another year of college football.
For the purpose of this list, we’ve selected three players that have either declared or graduated from U-M.
Let’s start by taking a look at EDGE rusher Josh Uche.
Having already announced his plans to declare for the NFL Draft, Uche will no doubt be the most likely targeted Wolverine on Detroit general manager Bob Quinn’s draft board.
The 21-year-old fits a need at the edge-rushing position.
He looks like a plug-and-play prospect that can make an instant impact as a rookie pass rusher.
And he fits the system Lions head coach Matt Patricia is trying to implement with guys like linebacker Devon Kennard.
Per Pro Football Focus, Uche had the second-best pass-rush win rate among FBS defenders in 2019, winning 28.4 percent of his battles with blockers.
Considering the Lions rank 28th in sacks per game (1.9), selecting two EDGE rushers in this draft wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Uche might not grade out as a first-or-second-round pick at the moment, but his ability as a pass rusher could get him there by draft day.
Should it not, Detroit selecting him anywhere past the second round would be a steal that fills a huge gap in Patricia’s scheme.
Let's take a look now at Michigan offensive guard Ben Bredeson
Overall, the interior offensive line position hasn’t been a glaring issue for Detroit.
However, Detroit's rushing game hasn't been super productive this season, even when No. 1 back Kerryon Johnson was healthy.
Of course, now it looks to be improving with the rise of Bo Scarbrough.
However, adding a rookie to the fold with the upside Bredeson possesses could prove to be a paramount selection down the road.
The four-year starter and two-year captain exemplifies everything you look for in a professional lineman: Strong and vocal leadership skills, the power and physicality to match with NFL defenders and high-end agility to pull on run plays at the guard position.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Bredeson graded out as a second rounder, noting his ability to run block at a high level.
If the Lions decide to re-sign guard Graham Glasgow off an impressive fourth year, pairing Bredeson with his former teammate at the corresponding guard position could produce a stout rushing game.
The only issue that might arise with taking Bredeson is that he's likely a second-or third-round pick, and Detroit will likely focus on defense early -- specifically in the first two rounds.
We gave you two prospects that will likely go off the board within the first three rounds. Now, let's take a look at cornerback Lavert Hill -- a guy that Detroit could get late.
Currently, the Lions could see themselves in a spot where they select Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah in the first round -- the consensus top corner in the 2020 draft class.
Should Detroit select a player at any other position in the first round, though, finding a cornerback with Hill’s skill set in the later rounds could be a stealthy move by Quinn & Co.
Hill plays the bulk of his coverage in press man, which is exactly what Patricia likes doing the most with his defenses.
The four-year Wolverine started the bulk of his career, and was the unequivocal top cornerback for U-M his last two seasons.
He shows flashes of greatness with huge upside as a ball-hawking and physical, man-coverage style corner that shines in breaking up passes -- an ability that landed him as the third-best cornerback in forced completion percentage among FBS corners in 2019 (30.8%).
That being said, his physicality often turns into grabby plays that haven't resulted in flags in college, but likely will turn into holding or interference penalties in the NFL.
Additionally, his senior year’s second-half play wasn’t enough to push him up draft boards.
What’s most encouraging about Hill was his junior campaign, when he was paired up with David Long -- now a corner for the Rams.
The two formed a dominant tag team.
Should Hill find himself in a position to be paired on the outside with Darius Slay, perhaps he’ll provide that dominant man coverage from 2018 more often.
Considering Hill’s scheme fit, skill set and upside, selecting him in the second-half of the draft is necessary if he stays on the board.