Lions draft cornerback Chase Lucas in the seventh round

Cornerback Chase Lucas was selected by the Detroit Lions with their seventh-round draft pick (234th overall) on Saturday.

Lucas, who was a team captain at Arizona State, received second-team all-conference honors in 2020 (15 tackles, five pass breakups in four starts) and then garnered honorable mention accolades in his final year (34 tackles, six pass breakups in 10 starts). 

“It’s been a rough couple months, but it was a rough three hours today. It was hard to be patient and trust the process. … I ended up getting that beautiful news that I’ve been waiting 25 years for. I’m very pumped up, very excited but I’m also ready to work,’’ Lucas said on a conference call.

The 25-year-old started at the college level for five years after playing running back in high school.

“ I feel my football IQ is a big reason why I was drafted. I feel like I do a lot of studying, a lot of film work. I feel like that’s going to translate to the nickel spot hopefully for the rest of my career,’’ Lucas saidl.

Lucas, who is 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, broke out in a big way his redshirt freshman season by earning second-team All-Pac-12 and Freshman All-American honors (59 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass breakups, 10 starts in 12 games played). Lucas started 12 of 13 games played in 2018 (62 tackles, six for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, five pass breakups) and then all 13 contests as a junior (50 tackles, four for loss, one interception, four pass breakups). 

His draft profile reads: “Slender boundary corner with an enormous amount of football snaps in his background. Lucas plays in off coverages, which is likely for the best considering his lack of strength and long speed. He typically trusts his eyes and has the traits to make plays on the football. He plays with adequate footwork to pedal and match basic routes but struggles to stay connected to more complex routes, as his body control and change of direction let him down.’’

Lions add another pass rusher in sixth round with James Houston

The Lions drafted yet another pass rusher by selecting James Houston out of Jackson State in the sixth round (217th overall) on Saturday.

Earlier in the draft they had added defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson (first round) and Josh Paschal (second round). After drafting those two, Lions GM Brad Holmes said you can never have too many pass rushers.

Houston’s resume isn’t quite as sparkling which explains why he was still available in the sixth round although he did have 16.5 sacks last season.

“I actually didn’t have any contact with the Lions (prior to the draft), but I”m happy they contacted me today,’’ Houston said in a conference call on Saturday.

His nickname is “The Problem” and he loves it. He said some of the Jackson State announcers came up with it.

“I was wreaking havoc. I had 10 to 11 sacks on the season and they came up with The Problem like Houston we have a problem,’’ Houston said.

He didn’t play in his senior year of high school due to injury, but was still signed by Florida. He was suspended for his first season due to alleged involvement in a credit card fraud scheme with other teammates.

“Everything that happened last year and everything that happened in college all of that is out the window. I’m coming in to work hard and try to make this organization better,’’ Houston said.

Houston, who is 6-foot-1 and 244 pounds, returned to contribute as a reserve for the Gators in 2018 (28 tackles, two for loss, one blocked kick in 13 games), 2019 (38 tackles, six for loss with 3.5 sacks) and 2020 (37 tackles, 3.5 for loss with one sack) before transferring to Jackson State.

It was a good move that earned him second-team Associated Press FCS All-American and first-team All-SWAC honors by leading the FCS with seven forced fumbles, tying for second with 24.5 tackles for loss and with 16.5 sacks. Houston had 70 total tackles and returned his lone interception for a score during 13 starts. 

His profile reads: “His Florida tape gives insight into his potential as an aggressive, downhill linebacker with modest instincts and results from the middle. He’s shorter and smaller than teams like along the edge but plays with an instinctive rush approach that effectively utilizes his explosive athleticism and bend to overwhelm FCS tackles.’’

Lions draft linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez in sixth round

The Lions added another piece to the defense by selected linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez in the sixth round (188th overall) on Saturday.

Rodriguez, who played at Oklahoma State, earned All-Big 12 honors in three straight seasons and made the first team in his final year. As the team captain was the Fiesta Bowl defensive MVP with 11 tackles, an interception, and two pass breakups in the win over Notre Dame.

Rodriguez, who is 5-foot-11 and 232 pounds, finished his career with the Cowboys by garnering All-Big 12 honors in three straight seasons, making the first team in his final year. He ranked seventh in the FBS with 76 solo tackles (129 total tackles, 15 for loss with three sacks) in 2021 and tied for 10th nationally with four forced fumbles in 14 starts. The team captain was also the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP with 11 tackles, an interception, and two pass breakups in the win over Notre Dame. 

In 2020, he led his team with 82 tackles (including 57 solos, tying for seventh-most in the FBS), seven for loss with three sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 11 starts.

In high school, Rodriguez led Wagoner to three straight Oklahoma state titles at quarterback, while also being named the state Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and winning a state championship in wrestling. 

His draft profile reads: “Rodriguez carries a compact, sawed-off frame that is muscular but stubby. His transition from read to flow is seamless, with some of the cleanest GPS to the football in this draft. He’s straight-line fast but lacks the looseness for sudden lateral bursts, which could limit his range as an NFL tackler. He can play on third downs but is very average in that department. Rodriguez has been a career gap-hog, finding and finishing runners who come his way.’’