Detroit turned its attention to bolstering the defensive line late Saturday afternoon with the selection of Utah defensive tackle John Penisini in the sixth round (No. 197 overall).
Penisini was a Second-Team All-PAC 12 performer in each of his last two seasons in Utah, recording back-to-back 38-tackle, seven tackle for loss and two sack seasons. Penisini is stout and strong in the middle at 318 pounds. He lined up mostly in the three-technique for the Utes and has a rugby background.
He took the junior college route to Utah and became a key contributor for that program the last two seasons. He actually redshirted his second year in junior college to be able to play three years for Utah.
Penisini (6-1, 318) said teams have slept on his talent in this draft. He's excited to show Detroit what the other 31 teams didn't see in him. He thinks his shorter height may have had something to do with that, but on tape, it also allows him to play with great pad level.
"Our program is tough," he said. "They build tough. That's the kind of player you guys are going to get. Just a tough player. Just ready to work."
The Lions signed Danny Shelton and Nick Williams in free agency, and return Da’Shawn Hand and others along the inside of their defensive line, but needed to add a youngster to that mix in this draft. Penisini fits the mold. He's a run stuffer and fits as a two-gap interior defender upfront. He's got strong hands and will improve his technique with NFL coaching.