With their only pick in the sixth round, the Detroit Lions drafted defensive tackle John Penisini out of Utah.
The 6-foot-1, 318-pound defensive lineman was a second-team all-conference pick as a senior, starting 13 of 14 games with 38 tackles, seven for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles.
Penisini wasn’t sure he would even be drafted.
“I was honestly preparing for the worst. Just looking for an undrafted free agent (call). To be honest, it’s a blessing to actually make it to the sixth round,’’ Penisini said in a conference call on Saturday. “I was projected to be a seventh rounder or even undrafted. Right now, I’m excited. My mom’s happy and everyone is happy, so it is shocking and it’s a blessing to be honest.”
He said the Lions are getting a hard worker who was slept on in the draft.
“It shows at Utah, especially from the coaches, you guys can ask them. They know what I do and our program’s tough and they are built tough,’’ Penisini said. “That’s the kind of player you guys are going to get, just a tough player. Just ready to work and really excited.”
Like all rookies (and veterans) a limited offseason program will pose new challenges when the season starts, if the season starts. Penisini is ready.
“To be honest, just follow their program, whatever they’re going to send to me. Learn the game mentally because honestly, if you don’t know exactly what the plays are, then you can’t go full speed,’’ Penisini said. “It’s really difficult to play if you don’t know what the plays are. But other than that, just keep working out, staying in shape – I have my teammates out here, some of the boys who actually live out here from Utah. So we can run some one-on-ones and stuff, but once quarantine is done and everyone is ready to get out, with the virus and whatever. For sure, would love to come out to Detroit.”
Detroit Lions draft picks (so far)
First round — CB Jeff Okudah (3rd overall), Ohio State
Second round — RB D’Andre Swift (35th overall) Georgia
Third round — LB Julian Okwara (67th overall) Notre Dame
Third round — G Jonah Jackson (85th overall) Ohio State
Fourth round — G Logan Stenberg (121st overall) Kentucky
Fifth round — WR Quintez Cephus (166th overall) Wisconsin
Fifth round — RB Jason Huntley (172nd overall) New Mexico State
Sixth round — DT John Penisini (197th overall) Utah