Detroit Lions draft DT Jashon Cornell from Ohio State in 7th round

Jashon Cornell became the third Ohio State Buckeye drafted by the Lions in this 2020 draft.

The Lions selected the defensive tackle in the seventh round with the 235th overall pick. 

“I’ve been talking to the Lions for a while. I was really excited to get that phone call,’’ Cornell said in a conference call on Saturday.

Cornell was the top-ranked recruit in Minnesota after high school and chose Ohio State from more than 30 scholarship offers.

Back then he was best buddies with Lions offensive lineman Frank Ragnow. They would travel to high school camps all over the country together.

At Ohio State, he broke through as a senior starter earning all Big Ten honors. He lined up both inside and outside, but seemed to find a comfort level inside as a senior. 

The other Buckeyes drafted by the Lions this weekend include CB Jeff Okudah (first round) and G Jonah Jackson (third round). 

“Jeff Okudah is a franchise player. He’s going to be – the things that Jeff can do as a defensive back – being able to come in as a freshman and being able to watch Jeff grow, he was able to showcase his ability as one of the best defensive backs in the country,’’ Cornell said. “He came to practice every day, he showed out. Jeff Okudah is going to be a great player for the Lions. Jonah, me and Jonah go at it for 12 weeks out of the year for every year since Jonah (came in) you know, we always had our battles in practice. It’s going to be good to go back up there in Detroit, and be able to compete with Jonah each day at practice and stuff.”

 He thinks having college teammates might help in his transition to the NFL.

“One thing we do at Ohio State is treat everything as if it’s an NFL team. That’s one thing that makes it different from most teams and most players that we’ve been through all the rough patches and we know about the grind and being able to compete at a high level – that’s one thing we did every Saturday,’’ Cornell said. “I think that’s one thing we can transition to Detroit, us Buckeyes can come in bring that competitive factor, that championship mentality that we have at Ohio State. I think that’s one thing we can bring to Detroit as Buckeyes.”

Detroit Lions 2020 draft picks 

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

Seventh round — DT Jashon Cornell (235th overall) Ohio State

Detroit Lions draft Utah DT John Penisini in sixth round

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

Detroit Lions draft RB/kickoff returner Jason Huntley in fifth round

With their second pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft, the Detroit Lions selected another running back. 

New Mexico State’s Jason Huntley will join second-round pick D’Andre Swift in the backfield in Detroit.

Huntley, who is 5-9 and 193 pounds, is a standout for his kickoff return skills. It may be his ticket to land on the Lions’ 53-man roster.

“Honestly, whatever position they want me to play, that’s what I’ll play. If it is returning kicks, I’d be more than happy to do it,’’ Huntley said in a conference call on Saturday.

In 2018 he led the FBS with three kickoff returns for touchdowns (22 returns, 598 yards, 27.2 average).

In his senior year he had 154 carries for 1,090 yards for an average of 7.1 yards per carry and nine touchdowns. His kickoff production was down (15 returns, 302 yards, 20.1 average).

As for his running style he describes it: “I’m more of a fast guy. I think that’s the biggest thing about me, my speed. I’m good in space. Off the field, I’m good on the board as well. That’s a pretty good IQ.”

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

Detroit Lions draft Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus in fifth round

Oddly enough Lions first-round pick cornerback Jeff Okudah has said the best wide receiver he went up against last season was Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus.

Both are now members of the Detroit Lions. 

Wide receiver was a position of need for the Lions and they addressed it by drafting Cephus in the fifth round on Saturday (166th overall).

“Jeff is an unbelievable talent, he was the best guy I lined up against all year,’’ Cephus said in a conference call on Saturday.  “It’s amazing getting  to see all the great athletes that the Lions tapped this year that they drafted and the guys they have on their roster. 

“Jeff Okudah, I know he’ll get me better. I can’t wait to work with him and have fun, knowing he has that same respect for me that I have for him it’s going to be a great thing,’’ Cephus said.

The 6-1, 202-pound wide receiver ran a 4.73 40 at the NFL Combine.

As a senior he had 59 receptions for 901 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. 

“I think I’m a receiver that makes plays, I’m a complete receiver I’m willing to block, to make catches, I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to help my team be successful, whatever that is I’ll do what I have to do,’’ Cephus said.

He remembers watching quarterback Matthew Stafford when he played at Georgia.

“I’m excited to get to work with him, learn from him, he has a lot of great experience with a lot of great guys,’’ Cephus said. “… I’m excited to get there and go to work with thim.’’

Cephus’ career at Wisconsin was temporarily derailed before the 2018 season when he was accused of sexual assault. He was acquitted of those charges in August 2019,

Cephus was accused of sexual assault prior to the 2018 season. He was acquitted of the charges in August 2019, but missed the 2018 season. 

He didn’t want to talk about the issue in the conference call, saying he’s looking forward to playing with the Lions.

 

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

Detroit Lions draft guard Logan Stenberg in fourth round, out of Kentucky

Nasty on the field, a gentleman off the field. It’s a perfect combination for an NFL offensive lineman. 

Meet guard Logan Stenberg.

The Detroit Lions added another big body to the offensive line by drafting Stenberg with the 121st overall pick in the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Stenberg, who is 6-6 and 315 pounds, calls himself a blue-collar guy, a hard-working individual.

Certainly his nasty streak is one of his many assets.

“I grew up with three older brothers, so I was the youngest of all four, growing up I had to fight for everything whether it was food or my place in line,’’ Stenberg said on a conference call on Saturday. “I grew up with that nastiness. I had to fight for what I want. It carried over to football.

“I think you could ask most of my teammates I’m very different on and off the field. Off the field I’m a very respectful fun guy, on the field it’s all business and I want to end the guy across from me every play,’’ Stenberg added.

He started 39 straight games at left guard for the Wildcats but is open to all possibilities in Detroit. 

“I think I can play any position on the offensive line, i plan to play wherever coach Patricia needs me the most,’’ Stenberg said.

He played in the Senior Bowl which gave the Lions coaching staff a chance to get to know him.

“I thought the Senior Bowl was great for me personally, because I got to spend some time around the coaching staff, seeing how they do things, what they value, getting a feel for it before I get it up to Detroit,’’ Stenberg said.

He spent this weekend on his parents’ 150-acre farm in southern Tennessee where they raise Charolais cattle.

“We’re out here, kind of isolated, watching the ticker waiting for my name to be called,’’ Stenberg said. “I couldn’t be happier to be going to Detroit.’’

He was asked if he was familiar with Larry Warford, another Kentucky offensive lineman.

Stenberg referred to him as Mr. Warford, possibly a first.

In the third round on Friday night, the Lions drafted guard Jonah Jackson out of Ohio State who also played in the Senior Bowl.

Detroit Lions trade up to draft guard Jonah Jackson in third round

The Lions traded up in the third round to draft guard Jonah Jackson out of Ohio State with the 75th overall pick.

Jackson is the second Ohio State Buckeye drafted by the Lions in their first four picks. Cornerback Jeff Okudah was selected in the first round. 

“He’s a brother, he’s a fellow Buckeye. We had a good rapport the short time I was there, a great dude and a great competitor that I’m ready to go to war with,’’ Jackson said about Okudah on a conference call on Friday night.

Detroit traded picks 85, 149 and 182 to the Indianapolis Colts for picks 75 and 197 to move up to grab Jackson, who is 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds. The Lions coached Jackson during the Senior Bowl where they got to know each other. Still he didn’t know if they would draft him. 

He played his first four years at Rutgers and then for his final year of eligibility he went to Ohio State to compete for one of the four open starting jobs on the offensive line. He earned the left guard role, started 14 games and was named third-team Associated Press All-American and earned first-team All Big Ten honors. 

“I went to Ohio State just looking for opportunity, just to be able to showcase my ability and pounce on another platform,” Jackson said. “I felt like it definitely helped me – wherever I was I felt like coaches would be able to find me. But being able to go to Ohio State and hang the banner up in that indoor facility for a Big Ten Championship and being able to get the ring and the gold pants – it was awesome.”

Jackson could fill a need on the Lions’ offensive line with the departure of Graham Glasgow. Last season Glasgow rotated at right guard with Kenny Wiggins and Joe Dahl. 

Jackson was not at Ohio State when Lions left tackle Taylor Decker played there. 

In the second round on Friday night, the Lions drafted running back D’Andre Swift (Georgia). With their first pick in the third round (67th overall) they selected edge rusher Julian Okwara whose brother, Romeo, is a defensive end for the Lions.

 

Lions’ draft pick LB Julian Okwara joins brother Romeo in Detroit

Julian Okwara has always been competitive with his older brother, Romeo. Now the brothers will play on the same team in Detroit.

It was a nice touch, as the TV cameras showed the brothers hugging when Julian’s name was announced when the Lions selected him in the third round of Friday’s NFL draft.

At the NFL Combine in February, Julian said it would be great to play for the Lions because he could get free rent from his brother. 

“It’s awesome I’ve always dreamed about this, it’s a dream come true, I’m pretty much speechless, still letting it marinate. I’ll wake up tomorrow and let it set in,’’ Julian Okwara said on a conference call on Friday night. 

And, yes, he still plans on a year of free rent from Romeo.

Okwara, who played at Notre Dame just like his brother, was the 67th overall pick of the Lions on Friday night.

Edge rusher was one of the Lions’ biggest needs and Okwara (6-4, 248 pounds) should be able to step in. 

“They’re getting a relentless pass rusher, a great defensive end who wreaks havoc in the backfield. I’m looking forward to learning on and off the field,’’ Okwara said. “I’m a dominant player, I’m looking forward to bringing a championship to Detroit.’’

Athlon Sports had him slotted as the fifth best outside linebacker in the draft.

Athlon reported: “He flashes exceptional skills in the pass rush, with good get-off and the heavy, active hands to beat blocks and enough flexibility to turn once he’s softened the edge.’’

In nine games for the Irish in 2019 he had five sacks, seven quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.

His brother Romeo, a defensive end, was undrafted. He originally signed with the N.Y. Giants and was claimed off the waiver wire by the Lions on Sept. 5, 2018. He had 15 starts and led the Lions with 7.5 sacks. In 2019 he had one start in 14 games with 1.5 sacks.

Earlier on Friday night the Lions drafted running back D’Andre Swift (Georgia) in the second round (35th overall).

Later in the third round, the Lions drafted offensive guard Jonah Jackson (Ohio State).