Detroit Lions stock up on Ohio State Buckeyes in NFL draft

From their first pick to their last, the Detroit Lions had a heavy theme throughout their 2020 NFL draft: Players who went to Ohio State.

The Lions ended up selecting three Buckeyes with their nine selections in the seven-round draft, one on each day of the selection process. It started with the No. 3 overall pick, Jeff Okudah, who was a lockdown corner for the Buckeyes.

Then in the third round, Detroit selected Jonah Jackson, a guard who could end up as an immediate starter on the offensive line with the Lions. With their final selection in the draft they took defensive tackle Jashon Cornell.

"Jeff Okudah is going to be, he's a franchise player," Cornell said. "The things that Jeff can do in the defensive back, though, seeing him be able to come in as a freshman and being able to watch Jeff grow through time, you know, he's able to showcase his ability as one of the best defensive backs in the country, you know. He came to practice every day and showed out on Saturday.

"Then Jonah, me and Jonah go at it for 12 weeks out of the year ... we always had our battles in practice and it'll be good to get back up there in Detroit and be able to compete each day with Jonah and stuff."

It's the second straight year a school has had three players drafted to the same team. Last year, the Raiders took Clelin Ferrell, Trayvon Mullen and Hunter Renfrow from Clemson.

Overall, the Lions' trio were among 10 Ohio State players taken throughout the 255-selection draft, just behind LSU, which had 14 players taken. Ohio State tied with archrival Michigan for players taken, with 10, just the sixth time since 1967 two teams from the same conference have had 10 or more players taken -- and the first time that's ever happened in the Big Ten. It last occurred in 2015 with Louisville and Florida State in the ACC.

The Buckeyes' class was top-heavy, too. Defensive end Chase Young, and cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Okudah all went in the first round, running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round and defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, linebacker Malik Harrison and Jackson in the third round.

"One thing about being an Ohio State player is just our transition to the next level," Cornell said. "One thing we do at Ohio State is treat everything like it's an NFL team, and that's one thing that we'll take different from most teams and most players is that we've been through all the rough patches and stuff and we've known off-field, to grind and to compete at a high level and that's one thing we did every Saturday.

"That's one thing we can transition to Detroit as guys being able to come in with that competitive factor and that championship mentality that we have at Ohio State and that's one thing we can bring to Detroit as Buckeyes."

Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he wasn't specifically targeting Ohio State players and that it wasn't the plan coming into the draft, but it just kind of happened that way.

"Not by design," Quinn said. "Ohio State is one of the top teams in the country year-in and year-out. I think everyone would agree with that. So I would say in Jonah's case, we watched his film but then we had him at the Senior Bowl. I think out of the Senior Bowl guys, he was the one guy that we fell in love with there. We fell in love with a lot of guys but he was the one guy.

"For Cornell, if you look back at his snap count, I think he gradually played more as the season progressed and his production increased as the season progressed. We're looking at, you know, Okudah, Arnette, [Jordan] Fuller, Harrison, Chase Young, I mean, Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison. How many guys got drafted on defense for them? So you're watching all their film over and over again, you take half a day and watch Chase Young just by himself so you make sure you have that evaluation and then you go back and say I want to watch these linebackers and front guys and all of a sudden, who is this Cornell guy. He was on our radar but he was graded a little bit lower in September and progressively got higher through October, November and December and the more you watch Ohio State, the more you see this guy show up as a rusher."