Detroit Lions: Best case scenarios for rookies on defense

Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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John Penisini, Detroit Lions
John Penisini, Detroit Lions (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

John Penisini

6-2, 325 defensive tackle from the University of Utah, drafted in the sixth round (197th overall)

Best Case for 2020: Penisini lives up to his self-proclaimed “most slept on” title and plays an important part on what turns out to be an improved defensive line. A few weeks ago, I labeled him as the X-factor on the line, the player most likely to make or break that position group during the coming season. He’s almost exclusively a run stuffer, so an early down and goal line presence would be where Penisini can make a difference.

Most Likely Role: The defensive tackles on the current roster are lackluster until proven otherwise, so Penisini will make the roster and get some snaps. Asking a rookie sixth rounder to transform the unit is rarely a blueprint for success though.

Jashon Cornell

6-3, 290 pound defensive tackle from Ohio State, drafted in the seventh (235th overall)

Best Case for 2020: Another defensive tackle snagged at the tail end of the draft, the Lions would have a steal if Cornell made the team and saw meaningful regular season action. Cornell is undersized for his position, but displays above average athleticism in comparison to the rest of the draft class.

Next. Detroit Lions: Best case scenarios for each offensive rookie. dark

Most Likely Role: As with any seventh round pick, the path to a spot on the active roster is uphill in both directions. Cornell’s most likely route to playing time as a rookie will be as a late season practice squad call-up when the injury gods come to collect taxes.