What Lions Can Expect With Third Overall Pick In Draft


As much as any team in the NFL, the Lions will dictate the 2020 draft. Their decision with the third overall pick -- namely, will they trade down? -- could shape how the rest of the first round plays out. 

If Detroit trades down to, say, the Chargers' pick at No. 6 and LA takes Tua Tagovailoa, what does that mean for the QB-needy Dolphins at No. 5? What about the Jaguars at No. 9, and the Raiders at No. 12? And what will that mean for the middle of the first round, or the early part of the second, when the Lions figure to gain another pick? 

Some of the suspense has been lessened by Detroit's apparent disinterest in Tua, but Bob Quinn and Co. remain the key players in a draft where the top two picks feel like formalities. After Joe Burrow to the Bengals and Chase Young to the Redskins, the first round begins in earnest. 
For now, let's assume the Lions stay at No. 3. With the way the market's shaping up, a trade down isn't such a given. They've been linked frequently to Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah, and Auburn DT Derrick Brown and Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons are on the table as well. Defense is perhaps the one certainty in this equation for Detroit. 

If recent history is any indication, offense might be the better option. Of the past 10 Pro Bowlers selected at No. 3, just three have been defensive players. That goes back to the year 2000, when the Redskins took six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels. The explanation for this split? Randomness, pretty much.

Another tidbit of note: no cornerback has been drafted in the top three this century. So the Lions could be setting a new precedent if they indeed take Okudah. The explanation for that? Again, some randomness. Several corners in this span have been taken in the top 10, including five in the top five. But it's also a reflection of low marginal value. Top corners can just as soon be drafted later. 

Here's what else recent history tells us about the third overall pick. 

Of the nine defensive players taken since 2000, eight have played on the D-line. Two of them became All-Pros in DT's Gerald McCoy (Bucs, 2010) and Marcell Dareus (Bills, 2011). DE Joey Bosa (Chargers, 2016) might soon make it three. The book is still out on DT Quinnen Williams (Jets, 2019). And that's about it for elite defensive talent. 

The tally to date: 10 Pro-Bowl selections, two All-Pro selections. 

Of the 11 offensive players taken since 2000, nine have played skill positions. The safest among them has been wide receiver, where Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Braylon Edwards went in consecutive drafts from 2003-05. In all, this group has produced seven Pro-Bowlers and four All-Pros. 

The tally to date: 41 Pro-Bowl selections, 10 All-Pro selections. 

So half of the past 20 players selected at No. 3 have since gone to the Pro Bowl, while six have become All-Pros. Those are the numbers that should mostly concern the Lions, who need more high-end talent however they can get it. 

Here's a look at each pick since 2000, with Pro Bowlers in bold. 

2000: Chris Samuels, LT, Redskins. 10 seasons (9 as starter), 6x Pro Bowl 

2001: Gerard Warren, DT, Browns. 11 seasons (8 as starter)

2002: Joey Harrington, QB, Lions. 6 seasons (6 as starter)

2003: Andre Johnson, WR, Texans. 14 seasons (12 as starter), 7x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro
2004: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. 16 seasons (16 as starter), 11x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro
2005: Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns. 8 seasons (5 as starter), 1x Pro Bowl
2006: Vince Young, QB, Titans. 6 seasons (4 as starter) 2x Pro Bowl
2007: Joe Thomas, LT, Browns. 11 seasons (11 as starter), 10x Pro Bowl, 6x All-Pro
2008: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. 12 seasons, 12 starting, 4 PB's, 1 AP

2009: Tyson Jackson, DE, Chiefs. 8 seasons (6 as starter)

2010: Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers. 10 seasons, (10 as starter), 6x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro
2011: Marcell Dareus, DT, Bills. 9 seasons (8 as starter), 2x Pro Bowl, 1x All-Pro

2012: Trent Richardson, RB, Browns. 3 seasons (3 as starter)

2013: Dion Jordan, DE, Miami Dolphins. 7 seasons (0 as starter)

2014: Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars. 6 seasons, (5 as starter) 

2015: Dante Fowler, OLB, Jaguars. 5 seasons, (1 as starter)

2016 : Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers. 4 seasons (4 as starer), 2x Pro Bowl

2017: Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers. 3 seasons (2 as starter) 

2018: Sam Darnold, QB, Jets. 2 seasons (2 as starter)

2019: Quinnen Williams, DT, Jets. 1 season (1 as starter)

2020 - ???