Fri, 23 Apr 2021

Lions offseason questions: Second-year player to watch

Detroit Lions
06 Mar 2021, 00:25 GMT+10

Lindsay Miller

It's tough to judge a rookie's performance and outlook based off just one year in the league, especially in the case of the 2020 draft class.

Last year's rookies had to learn on the fly a bit after missing out on an offseason training program and preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Detroit Lions draft class showed a lot of potential last year, which should be a good sign moving forward. Which Lions rookie are you most excited to see make a year-two jump? I asked the Detroitlions.com crew, and here's what they had to say:

Tim Twentyman: Wide receiver Quintez Cephus

Running back D'Andre Swift and cornerback Jeff Okudah both should make huge leaps in production, but I'm also interested to see how Cephus develops this offseason heading into his second season. A fifth-round pick by Detroit last year, Cephus was pressed into a role early in 2020 because of injuries at the position. He caught 20 balls for 349 yards with a couple touchdowns and averaged 17.5 yards per reception, which shows there's some playmaking ability there.

The Lions have a lot of question marks at the receiver position heading into the new league year, but Cephus will be a part of that revamped receiver room. Just how big a part will depend on how big a leap he takes in his preparation and development this offseason.

Mike O'Hara: Defensive end Julian Okwara

Okwara came to the Lions last year as a value pick in the third round who would have been drafted higher had his 2019 season at Notre Dame not been shortened by an injury.

As a second-year player, Okwara is still a prospect whose value is unproven because of an injury.

Okwara played only six games and 99 snaps last season. He had one tackle for loss. However, there were instances when the natural quickness and athleticism Okwara had shown in college were evident.

If he can stay healthy this year, Okwara still has a chance to prove that he was a value pick in the third round.

Tori Petry: Running back D'Andre Swift

Swift was electric to watch in his rookie year - especially once he finally earned the start against Washington where he notched 149 yards from scrimmage. It was a shame to see him battle injuries after that, but I think he is poised for a huge jump going into this season.

Running backs coach Duce Staley and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn have already sung Swift's praises, so I'm excited to see how they are able to help him develop.

Editor's Pick: Cornerback Jeff Okudah

It's always unfortunate to see a rookie struggle with injuries their first year in the league, especially a first-round pick like Okudah. Okudah had core muscle surgery after the Lions placed him on Reserve/Injured near the end of last season, and he seems confident he'll be healthy in time for any offseason training.

I also liked what new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said about wanting Okudah to be the best version of himself instead of trying to live up to the No. 3 pick. Hopefully a fresh scheme and coaching staff combined with recovering from his injury will allow Okudah to have a comeback season in 2021.

More Indiana News

Access More

Sign up for Indiana State News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!