The Detroit Lions will draft third overall in the 2020 NFL Draft; could selections of the past help predict the future pick at number three?
The future of the Detroit Lions hangs in the balance in one of the most important offseasons in recent memory. Nine is the pathetic number of wins over the past two years for the Lions with only three of them coming last season which netted Detroit with the third overall pick in this years draft.
The Lions have made the number three pick in the NFL Draft three times since 1980 and have had mixed results; the most recent selection for Detroit at third overall was Joey Harrington in 2002, followed by Barry Sanders in 1989 and Bennie Blades in 1988 (traded one spot back from number two with the Kansas City Chiefs).
If the Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia can hit on their selection anywhere close to Bennie, let alone Barry, that player would become the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. On the other hand, if they miss on a player like Harrington, it could cement this team in the basement of the league for the foreseeable future.
There is speculation around the league that the Lions could take a quarterback with their first round pick. Be careful what you wish for – the last two times that a team selected a quarterback with the third overall pick found themselves with the same pick in the subsequent year. The New York Jets selected Sam Darnold third in 2018 and picked third again in 2019. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Blake Bortles third in 2014 and picked third again in 2015).
For the Lions fans that hope that the Lions trade their pick, the third pick has been traded 30.0 percent of the time or 12 times in the past 40 years. Since 2012 that pick has been traded four times or 50.0 percent.
Positional breakdown percentage of selections at third overall since 1980
22.5 percent – quarterback – Out of nine quarterbacks selected at third, only three of them have had careers of note; Matt Ryan, Steve McNair and Jim Everett. Prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft are Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, & Justin Herbert.
17.5 percent – defensive tackle – Notable selections include Marcel Dareus, Gerald McCoy and Gerard Warren. The top 2020 defensive tackle prospects include Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw.
17.5 percent – edge rusher – The only players worthy of mention are Joey Bosa, & Simeon Rice. Candidate edge rushers in this years draft are Chase Young and A.J. Epenesa.
15.0 percent – running back – The best of the bunch selected at number three are Barry Sanders and Garrison Hearst. I doubt that the Lions would take a running back at number three but the top prospects in this class are D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, and Jonathan Taylor.
7.5 percent – wide receiver – Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson were both selected third overall. One of the strengths in this years draft are the wideouts headed up by Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III.
7.5 percent – offensive tackle – All three offensive tackles selected at third since 1980 were stellar; Joe Thomas, Chris Samuels, and Anthony Munoz. 2020 prospects include Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton, and Jedrick Wills Jr.
12.5 percent – Outliers – outside linebacker, cornerback, and safety – Chip Banks, Carl Banks had good careers at outside linebacker and Bennie Blades was a staple for the Detroit secondary for a decade. Top prospects in this draft; outside linebacker – Isaiah Simmons, and K’Lavon Chaisson, cornerback – Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson, and safety – Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit.
A tight end has never been selected with the third overall pick and there’s a first time for everything, right? For the love of football, I’m kidding! I can only hope that whoever the Detroit Lions draft at three will be more like Barry Sanders and less like Joey Harrington. I think that the most likely scenario is that the Lions will trade back for additional picks and their trade partner will select a quarterback, unless the edge rusher from Ohio State, Chase Young falls in their lap.