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O'HARA: How Lions' 2020 draft class fared in first season

Rating the Detroit Lions' 2020 draft class is a grab bag of questions raised by performance, injuries, potential and production that in some cases exceeded expectations.

From the top down, all of those categories were filled to some degree by the nine players taken in what proved to be the last draft conducted by former Lions GM Bob Quinn.

There is some real promise in that class, but as is always the case, a better evaluation will come in future seasons.

Based on what they did – or didn't do – following is a look at the players drafted by the Lions by round, what they accomplished as rookies, and their outlook for the future:

1. CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State: A lot more was expected from a player drafted third overall to start from Day 1 and upgrade the secondary. Okudah played only nine games with six starts because of injuries, and he wound up having surgery to repair a groin injury.

Stats line: Nine games, six starts, one interception and two passes defended.

Outlook: A difficult season for everyone became even more difficult for Okudah because of the injury. It could have affected him in coverage.

A more complete analysis comes in 2021.

2. RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia: Swift had ups and downs, and it started in the opener with a rushing TD and a dropped pass in the end zone on what could have been the game-winning catch. He recovered from that to show real promise, and high-level skills.

Stats line: Rushing: 521 yards, 4.6 yards per carry and eight TDs; receiving: 46 catches, 4.6 yards per catch, two TDs.

Outlook: The Lions found a lead back who can play all three downs. A polished runner and good receiver, he has the potential to be the Lions' best running back since Barry Sanders.

3. DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame: He missed most of the year due to injury, but showed flashes in the final two games.

Stats line: Three tackles, one tackle for loss.

Outlook: Okwara showed some promise. Working with his brother, Romeo, had to help adapt to the NFL. Avoiding injuries is the No. 1 priority.

3. G Jonah Jackson, Ohio State: He started all 16 games and settled in at left guard between center Frank Ragnow and tackle Taylor Decker as comfortably as if they were all 10-year veterans.

Stats line: 16 games, all starts

Outlook: Jackson showed NFL teams his competitive trait when he transferred to Ohio State to play a fifth year after four years with Rutgers. Jackson said he wanted to play in big games and compete for championships, which was not the case at Rutgers.

The Lions got a real pro here.

4. Guard Logan Stenberg, Kentucky: The Lions were not looking to draft another guard after taking Jackson but rated Stenberg a value pick in the fourth round.

Stats line: Active for only two games and played five snaps, all on special teams.

Outlook: 12 players played at least one snap on the Lions' offensive line. Stenberg was not one of the 12. He has to show something in 2021.

5. WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin: His 40-yard dash time of 4.74 seconds at the Combine scared off some teams, but the Lions liked his hands, size (6-1, 204) and competitiveness.

Stats line: 13 games and 2 starts, 20 catches, 17.5 yards per catch and two TDs.

Outlook: It's a bigger body type, but Cephus is a lot like Marvin Jones Jr. in the way he competes, makes contested catches and uses body control to get open. He benefits from playing with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who throws to the open man.

5. RB Jason Huntley, New Mexico State: Cut by the Lions, did not make the opening-day roster.

Stats line: 5 games, five carries for 19 yards. One catch, no yards.

Outlook: Huntley was claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

6. DT John Penisini, Utah: The Lions went into the season wanting to strengthen the interior of the defensive line. They never expected a sixth-round draft pick to be the leader of that effort.

Stats line: 16 games, 12 starts, 35 tackles, four for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Outlook: It was a fast progression for Penisini. He played special teams only the first two games, advanced to the tackle rotation for the next two and started the last 12. It will be hard for anyone to move him out of that starting spot. The Lions found a gem deep in the draft.

7. DT Jashon Cornell, Ohio State: Injured early in training camp and spent his rookie year on injured reserve.

Outlook: His rookie year starts again in 2021

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