Detroit Lions: Late-round sleeper targets in 2020 NFL Draft

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images /
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(Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
(Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images) /

Offensive Skill-Position Sleepers

Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State

Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton is a name that is not being talked about very much around the 2020 NFL draft world. However, Luton has some promising traits that give him the potential to develop into an above-average back-up in the league.

Luton played significant time for Oregon State over the last two years, throwing no more than four interceptions in any given year he played for the Beavers. In his senior season, he displayed phenomenal growth. He completed 62 percent of his passes, throwing for over 2,700 yards and 28 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

Taking care of the ball is one of his calling cards, rarely turning over the ball in college. He won’t wow you with his athleticism or mobility but he will stand tall in the pocket while making solid throws to all levels of the field. With his knack for taking care of the football and ability to fit the ball in at all levels of the field, Luton should be able to develop into a top bench quarterback in the NFL that can keep a team afloat if the starter goes down.

Projected Draft Range: Round 6 – Round 7

Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State

The Detroit Lions could look to add to the running back position on the roster, as neither of their top two backs has proven they can stay healthy for a full 16-game season. Adding quality depth could very well be on their radar, but shouldn’t happen until day three of the 2020 NFL Draft, as running back is a far less important position than other areas of need.

Darrynton Evans out of Appalachian State is a back that is very likely on the Detroit radar. Evans meets all of the parameters that the team looks for in their running backs, showing both elite burst and speed out of the backfield.

He posted two 1,000-yard seasons while in college, averaging over 5.5 yards per carry each of those seasons. He is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver, catching over 20 passes for almost 200 yards in his final season. Evans showed he is a big-time scoring threat, finding the end zone 23 times in 2019.

Evans will be appealing to the Lions for his great 4.4 speed and elusiveness. Evans is great at changing direction on his opponents and forcing guys to miss. No doubt the Detroit coaching staff will also find his ability to not fumble the football enticing, not once fumbling the ball in his career at App. State.

Projected Draft Range: Round 4 – Round 5

Cheyenne O’Grady, TE, Arkansas

An underrated need for the Detroit Lions is a number two tight end who will threaten defenses through the air and impose their will when blocking in the run game. Right now, the roster consists of only T.J.  Hockenson and Jesse James that offer anything in the way of NFL level players, with even James being a disappointment in 2019.

That is why the Lions will need to add another tight end to the roster with NFL upside on day three. If Detroit wants to take the risk on Arkansas product Cheyenne O’Grady, he could prove to be a steal in the 2020 NFL Draft. O’Grady has shown day-two talent on the football field but due to numerous off-field issues, he will likely fall well into day three of the draft.

O’Grady brings great size to the position, but only decent athleticism. Still, his ability to win in contested catch situations and sure hands will bring an NFL team calling before the draft is over. He is also a good blocker, not afraid to put his hand in the dirt and bully defenders off the line of scrimmage. Some NFL team is going to get a steal this draft cycle, but will just have to accept the off-field risks that come with O’Grady.

Projected Draft Range: Round 5 – Round 7

Joe Reed, WR, Virginia-

Joe Reed is an interesting prospect that can be found late on day three. He brings good size and respectable speed to the position, but won’t blow anyone away. His hands are good and he won’t drop many passes that come his way. He also offers a team the ability to return both kicks and punts, using his straight-line speed and excellent vision to burst through holes and gain plus yardage when returning the football.

Over the three years where he played significant snaps for the Cavaliers, Reed reeled in 125 receptions for over 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns. He won’t be a huge big-play guy and doesn’t offer elite-level separation and/or acceleration out of routes, but will be a solid big-slot receiver for a team that utilizes him in underneath routes and schemed targets.

Projected Draft Range: Round 7 – Priority UDFA