Detroit Lions Could Spark Wild NFL Draft With Third Overall Pick

Written By Matt Schoch on April 13, 2020Last Updated on February 4, 2021
Detroit Lions NFL Draft

“With the third pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select …”


Following LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, the Detroit Lions, at No. 3, represent the first real dose of uncertainty in the NFL Draft, which will be held virtually on April 23.

The Cincinnati Bengals seem to be locked in on Burrow, an Ohio native with -7000 odds to be the first overall pick, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Young, an OSU teammate of Burrow’s before the quarterback transferred south, has -1200 odds to go second, a pick held by the Washington Redskins.

DraftKings Sportsbook has those selections as even more sure things: Burrow going first is at -10,000 and Young at No. 2 is -2000.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any Michigan sports betting on the draft, as Detroit’s three casinos are closed through the end of the month and online sports betting is not yet allowed.

A long list of Detroit Lions NFL Draft busts

Then comes Detroit, which is infamous for its futility, especially on draft day.

The Lions had not picked this high since 2010 when they went with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska at No. 2.

That pick was the last of an incredible nine-year run where Detroit picked eight times in the top 10.

The first five of those picks were either busts or did not change the trajectory of the franchise.

They were:

  • Quarterback Joey Harrington, of Oregon, at No. 3 in 2002
  • Wide receiver Charles Rogers, of Michigan State, at No. 2 in 2003
  • Wide receiver Roy Williams of Texas at No. 7 in 2004
  • Wide receiver Mike Williams, of USC, at No. 10 in 2005
  • Linebacker Ernie Sims, of Florida State, at No. 9 in 2006

The final three of that group have had successful careers, with wide receiver Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech (No. 2 in 2007), quarterback Matthew Stafford of Georgia (No. 1 in 2009) and Suh combining for 12 Pro Bowl appearances.

But here the Lions are, back at the top of the draft and still with just one playoff win since 1957.

Sportsbooks point to Okudah for Lions

The odds-on favorite at No. 3 is a third member of the 2017 Buckeyes: Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.

Okudah joined Young on a dominant scarlet and gray defense as a junior, making three interceptions in his first year as a starter.

FanDuel has Okudah +130 to go third, and DraftKings has the Grand Prairie, Texas, native at +110.

However, the Lions have not picked a defensive back in the first round since 1998 when they selected Terry Fair, of Tennessee, at No. 20. That was their second straight cornerback in the first round after taking Bryant Westbrook, of Texas, at No. 5 in 1997.

Bettors also can get a little more value from Okudah going third by pegging the top-three order of Burrow-Young-Okudah at +135 for FanDuel and +150 for DraftKings.

Tagovailoa as the potential Detroit Lions NFL Draft wild card

This year’s biggest NFL Draft wild card is Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Tagovailoa was a potential No. 1 pick until a hip injury ended his junior season with the Crimson Tide after nine games.

His recovery from surgery is an even bigger mystery as the COVID-19 shutdown threw a wrench into every team’s pre-draft plans.

The Lions seem to be set at quarterback with Stafford, but could Detroit be willing to invest in a quarterback of the future?

Or, more likely, would a team like the Miami Dolphins (No. 5) or Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6) or be willing to trade up for Tagovailoa?

No matter who makes the pick at three, sportsbooks see Tagovailoa as a real option there. FanDuel has the Hawaiian at +170 to go No. 3, while DraftKings lists him at +250.

NFL Draft long-shots worth monitoring

For a team with a 3-12-1 record, there are lots of needs for the Lions to fill, and general manager Bob Quinn could pull a surprise at No. 3.

With the departure of defensive tackles Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels, Detroit could still have a need there or anywhere on defense for coach Matt Patricia.

DraftKings lists Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at +2500 for the third overall pick, while he’s off the board at FanDuel.

After Okudah and Tagovailoa, FanDuel lists Young next at +650, then Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert at +850, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons at +900, Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. at +5000 and Burrow at +10,000.

DraftKings has a wild card list at No. 3 that includes:

  • Herbert at +700
  • Simmons at +900
  • Young at +1200
  • Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at +3300
  • Burrow at +5000
  • Wills at +6600
  • Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs at +6600
  • Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton at +10,000
  • Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson at +10,000
  • Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy at +10,000
  • South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at +10,000
  • Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb at +15,000
  • Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III at +15,000
  • Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at +15,000
  • Georgia running back D’Andre Swift at +25,000
  • LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton at +50,000
  • Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor at +50,000

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He’s also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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