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DETROIT LIONS SELECT RB, DE, OL, SECOND DAY OF 2020 DRAFT

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DETROIT LIONS SELECT RB D’ANDRE SWIFT, DE JULIAN OKWARA & OL JONAH JACKSON ON SECOND DAY OF THE 2020 NFL DRAFT

The Detroit Lions selected RB D’Andre Swift (second round, 35th overall), DE Julian Okwara (third round, 67th overall) and OL Jonah Jackson (third round, 75th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft.

LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER BOB QUINN CONFERENCE CALL (VIA ZOOM)
Opening Statement: “Good to see everybody tonight – sorry for the delay. Just kind of wrapping up our day here – so exciting day here for the Lions. Started off the day with picking D’Andre Swift at No. 35, felt really good about that pick, obviously (a) playmaker, explosive, three-down value, really, really good football player. Played at a high level – know their coaches down there, know the conference that he plays in. So very, very excited. Secondly, we stood pat there at 67 and got Romeo (Okwara’s) brother, so that’s good. Outside linebacker, pass rusher, highly athletic kid, long, violent, had an injury this year that he recovered from. So we feel great with that recovery, and really expect him to do great things with his brother. It’s pretty cool when I called him, Romeo was standing right next to him. So I would say the excitement in that room was at a high level with the Okwara family. It was great. Then we made the trade with Indy. We moved up from 85 to 75, took Jonah Jackson who we had at the Senior Bowl. Guard transfer from Rutgers, really tough guy, strong, athletic, smart, nasty. I mean, any O-line trait that you put in the scouting manual, this guy has it. Really a guy that we targeted dating back before the Senior Bowl. We were very lucky. I was not lucky to be in the Senior Bowl – let me rephrase that. We were lucky to have Jonah on our team and get to know him a little bit better, so the comfort level was great. We’re sitting there tomorrow at 109. I think we have four picks tomorrow total. With that, I’ll open it up.”

On how many of these picks he sees as being starters or major contributors: “You always want your first two days of draft to be contributors early in their careers. That’s the goal. They’re going to come in; they’re going to be on the roster; they’re going to play. They’re going to develop, and they’re going to hopefully help us win games. That’s the goal, but it’s up to them now. They’re here, so they have to work extremely hard from wherever they’re going to be for the next month to six weeks or whatever it is, and get their minds right and get the playbook, so when they get back here whenever they can, they’re going to hit the ground running. Our expectations are high for these guys, but they’re rookies. They’re going to need a little bit of development. We feel really strongly that these guys we added today, as well as Jeff (Okudah) yesterday, that they’re going to be helping us on the field next year.”

On Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien reportedly becoming frustrated when the Lions backed out of a trade: “Listen, we talk to a lot of teams. When we’re not on the clock, we talk to a bunch of teams, and it’s not just myself. We have four or five people that make calls. So I’m not sure what that was about. But we didn’t have a trade.”

On if he was surprised RB D’Andre Swift was still available and what sets him apart from other potential running backs: “It was a tight group up there for sure. A lot of guys we liked in that cluster up there. I’d say (I was) a little bit surprised last night when we went back, and we said, ‘All right, well Swift is still up there.’ Kind of crossed our fingers for a couple picks, but felt – going to bed last night, he was the guy that was on my mind the most. I was hoping we could get him, and we stood pat there. You know, you never know. The Draft is hard to predict, as you guys know. But I felt very fortunate that he was there.”

On how RB D’Andre Swift complements RB Kerryon Johnson: “Different kind of back, a little bit shorter, a little bit thicker, runs lower to the ground. This guy is really good in the open field. Makes guys miss in space, big-play ability, takes the ball well out of the backfield, good route runner. Different, I think they complement each other very well.”

On why he likes SEC running backs: “No, nothing special – good question. Obviously the SEC, I would argue, is one of the top one or two conferences in college football. I think a lot of people say it is the best conference. The competition that’s in that conference – from LSU to Alabama to Auburn to Georgia to all those schools – and some of the other teams have really, really good players. So the level of competition – they get the high recruits, they really do. In D’Andre’s case, he sat behind a first-round pick in Sony (Michel) and a high second-round pick in (Nick) Chubb from a couple years ago. So you go back and watch him early, he kind of was the complement back. He went in there and made plays a couple years ago, and then really last year played more. I think every step along the way he’s improved. So hopefully he can take another step when he gets here.”

On how much drafting RB D’Andre Swift was to get injury insurance for RB Kerryon Johnson: “Well, I think we always want a stable of backs. I think I’ve said that for a long time. You can count on one hand how many backs kind of carry the load. There’s not a lot of those guys walking around. I think we always need multiple backs. It’s a position where guys get hit. They take a pounding. So, we’ve just got to make sure we have good depth and guys that can go out there and make plays for us.”

On what style G Jonah Jackson brings and how he compares to former Lions OL Graham Glasgow: “Pretty similar, I would say, both nasty guys. That was one of Graham’s calling cards. He’s a nasty player. He’s a finisher. I would put Jonah in that same category. A little bit of a different story. Jonah was a graduate transfer that played at Rutgers at a very high level and then wanted to go play against the best. That kind of told me something. We talked to this kid, ‘Why did you want to play another year?’ He could have come out last year. He wanted to play against the best competition. So, that says something. He went there and fit in immediately. Obviously, I told you guys last night we spent a lot of time with the Ohio State staff and guys that have coached there the last couple of years. Just walking into Ohio State, first day on campus, first workout, first month on the team and had a high level of respect from everybody in the university. Showed us that he’s a guy that has leadership ability. He has toughness and he has drive to play against the best.”

On if he was concerned, he was not going to be able to draft G Jonah Jackson without trading up for him: “Yeah, I mean listen, there wasn’t a lot of offensive linemen, interior offensive linemen – there was a few teams, nobody specifically, we just wanted the player and I thought the price was fair. You know, we gave up a fifth (round pick), but then we flopped back a little bit in the sixth round. So, to us it was a fair trade for a guy that we really liked.”

On the process of making a trade in the heat of this draft and what it means to draft LB Julian Okwara with a limited offseason and his brother Romeo already on the roster: “Yeah, I’m not putting the cart before the horse here, but I believe since they’re relatives they can probably live together. So, maybe he gets a helping hand with the playbook, but we’ll see. He’s a smart kid anyways. He knows football. But it’s obviously helpful, right? It’s obviously (helpful) to have someone that’s been in the system for a couple of years at your disposable and honestly wants his brother to do well. I think it’s an added bonus that the comfort level is really high. He’s got a tremendous skillset, so let’s talk about his skillset first. That’s why we picked him, and he just happens to be Romeo’s brother. So, that’s an added bonus for us.”

On what it was like working from home to make the trade with the Colts to move up in the third round: “It’s just a few extra steps because we’re on a video conference with my staff. Like I told you before, it’s eight or 10 of us in the room at any time. So, we split up the calls. I can’t make every call. If we’re trying to go up the Draft board, we kind of split them up and say, ‘Listen, all right, you take this team. I take that team. Joe (Kelleher) you take this team,’ so on and so on. So, it’s probably four or five people making calls and the communication has to be clear and you have to be able to make a decision. Ultimately, they made some initial calls, my staff did, and then I picked up the phone and called (Colts General Manager) Chris Ballard and we got it done in a couple seconds. So, it was a pretty smooth process.”

On G Joe Dahl’s health: “Joe’s healthy. I talked to Joe on the phone a couple of weeks ago. He’s doing well. If we had an offseason program, he’d be a full participant.”

On if he looks for leadership attributes in his prospects: “It’s always part of the equation. It’s always something we look at. I think we have great leadership on the team right now, and I think that the guys we added this weekend, so far, add to that, for sure. It’s something that – we take a lot of time. It’s a lot of tape-work, studying the player, but the evaluation of the skillset is No. 1. Can they help us on the field? The research stuff is how they fit in the locker room. How do they lead? How do they carry themselves? We put our emphasis on that, we always will, and I think the guys we took, the first four guys, fit that mold. I think we have a good core of that heading into it, so these guys will help build that.”

On if he sees value at the receiver position left in the Draft: “Yeah, there’s some receivers that we like, for sure. I think a lot of receivers, I don’t have the number in front of me, but I think a lot of receivers went off the board today. There are other guys that are in the mix that we’re considering here in the next couple of rounds. There’s guys that we like here, too, that we just know from our research that will be there. There’s probably a guy in every round that we would feel comfortable with, it’s just got to be comparing that guy across the board at other positions.”

On if he’s made a decision on picking up the fifth-year option for LB Jarrad Davis: “I have not.”

On if there is a certain position group that still has a lot of talent left: “Maybe I should just screenshare my draft board for you guys. I don’t really want to answer that. I don’t want to give away any state secrets here, but I think there are a number of positions that have depth that we like. We met tonight, that’s why I was a little bit late getting on the call. We met for about 20, 30 minutes after the Draft was over to kind of get some initial thoughts on that. We’ll get on the call again tomorrow morning around 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and kind of reset it a little bit and take a hard look at which way we want to go.”

On if he can explain the process of how the scouts meet up: “Obviously, the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts of it, the board gets wiped out at the top. So, now we’re working off a virtual board so the computer guys and (Vice President of Football Administration) Mike Disner and (Manager of Football Administration/Lead Counsel) Jon Dykema and (College Scouting Coordinator) Ron Miles, those guys are kind of in charge of what the board looks like, they’ll manipulate it. They’ll use their Excel and Access and all these great databases and push all those guys up to the top just so it’s a little bit easier to see with the corresponding grades to the left and right, so it’s just a little easier to read. We’ll get a fresh look at that in the morning because obviously everything at the top of the board right now is wiped out. We just kind of have to reset it, reorganize what the needs are compared to what the best available is, and that’s what we always do. We feel good with what we came out with today and look forward to tomorrow.”

LIONS RB D’ANDRE SWIFT CONFERENCE CALL
On his reaction when he knew he would be selected by the Lions: “Just relieved, excited, happy, blessed, everything all in one. Just so many emotions going through my head – just to get that phone call. I’m just blessed, happy to be a Lion.”

On what he knows about RB Kerryon Johnson and how the two of them will be in the backfield together: “I know a lot about him. He had a great career in college – him and Bo Scarbrough. I’ve seen them first hand. He’s done great in the NFL, too. So just to go in there and build a relationship with them type of guys – I’m just looking to compete for whatever role is fit for me. I’m looking forward to meeting all my teammates.”

On the Lions’ having multiple SEC running backs and what that says about the conference: “It’s amazing – that just speaks volumes to the conference. I think some of the best players come through the SEC. I think it’s one of the higher conferences in college football. Just to have an all SEC backfield, that’s just a blessing.”

On if he had much conversation with the Lions before the Draft: “I have. It was one of the teams I talked with a little bit more than others. I didn’t know it was going to be them. I didn’t know who it was going to be, that’s the most crazy, exciting part about it.”

On what he knows about QB Matthew Stafford: “I have definitely seen him play, coming from Georgia – great quarterback. Looking forward to meeting him as week and build that relationship.”

On why Georgia has produced so many good NFL running backs: “Just how they prepare, how they prepare their backs and every position. Keep them ready for the next level no matter what is thrown at them – prepared mentally, physically. So it’s preparation.”

On what it means to be a part of the Georgia running back lineage in the pros: “Amazing. Just to have my name mentioned with those guys – they’re legends. I just have to do my part, so I can be talked about with them further down the line.”

On if he takes pride in his pass-protection: “Yeah, I think you have to. I think I was put in more of a position last year to kind of solidify it and kind of help complete my game so that teams can see that. That’s something you can definitely always work on and get better at.”

On what he knows about the Lions: “The first thing that came to my mind was Barry Sanders, he’s my favorite back of all-time. I didn’t really know too much about them. I don’t have a favorite football team, I just like watching football in general. Now that I’m a Lion, I’m going to definitely do my history.”

On if there’s something about his game he didn’t show at Georgia but can in the NFL: “I think just getting into space a lot more, but at the running routes in the slot versus whoever. Just being able to use my abilities to really showcase my talents, I think I can do that a lot more as far as getting in space and just getting mismatches and stuff like that.”

On how he was able to watch and learn from Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders: “Well, everyone would always talk about him. I started watching film and highlights and just looking at his stats. (It’s) kind of unbelievable. As I got older, I tried to emulate my game to be like his in any way possible. I just love watching him.”

On if he thinks he can be the Lions’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013: “That sounds good whenever it comes down to it. Right now, I’m just looking forward to meeting the team and just competing for whatever role they think is best for me right now.”

LIONS DE JULIAN OKWARA CONFERENCE CALL
On his reaction to being teammates with his brother DE Romeo Okwara: “It’s awesome. I’ve always dreamed about this, so it’s definitely a dream come true. I’m pretty much speechless. I’m still kind of letting it marinate, think about it tonight and probably will wake up tomorrow and really let it sit in.”

On if his comments at the Combine about sleeping on DE Romeo Okwara’s couch rent-free still applies: “Oh yeah, 100 percent. It’s happening. I wasn’t joking. So I’m looking forward to living a rent-free year.”

On his familiarity with the organization: “I haven’t really had much contact with the whole team. I’ve talked to the head coach. I know a little bit of the teammates, a couple of them. So I’m looking forward to getting to know my teammates and meeting the team. Just looking forward to the future here.”

On what he brings to the table: “They’re getting a relentless pass rusher, great defensive end, someone who wreaks havoc in the backfield. I’m looking forward to that, a competitor on and off the field. I’m a dominant player. I love to win games. I’m looking forward to bringing a championship to Detroit.”

On when he realized that joining the Lions could be a possibility: “I was kind of watching the picks go around, probably around pick 35 when they had (one) of the first three (picks) of the second round. I think when the second round was ending, I saw Detroit again. I kind of had an eye on them. I had a tiny feeling, but it was so crazy really just thinking about it.”

On his brother’s reaction: “He was excited too. We’re looking forward to being in the same city, learning with him, through him. I’m excited for that.”

On if playing together on the professional level is something he and his brother talked about as children: “Really, we always just talked about being against each other, but I’ve always personally, wanted to play with him. He probably definitely wanted to play with me, so this is crazy. It’s really happening now.”

On how competitive he and his brother were growing up: “I would say a decent amount. We were never in the same high school together at the same time. I would always try to beat his records and do things he didn’t do in college. I kind of bragged about it, got bragging rights in high school and college a little bit. But just kind of (did) my own thing and now that we’re at the same level it’s really about getting each other better.”

On if he is fully healthy: “Yes, I’m good to go. I’m ready for the season, ready to get things going and ready to get to work, really.”

On his bench press performance at the Combine being impressive and if he was able to work on his upper body while he was recovering from injury: “I definitely had to improve my overall strength, but I knew my upper body strength was going to be something I excelled at. I love lifting. I love lifting weights and getting after it in the weight room. So, I compete, work hard and I expected that number.”

LIONS OL JONAH JACKSON CONFERENCE CALL
On his experience playing for the Lions coaching staff at the Senior Bowl: “The experience I had with (Offensive Line Coach Hank) Fraley, (Assistant Offensive Line Coach Billy) Yates, coach ‘Bev’ (Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator) – it was second-to-none. The amount of knowledge that I was able gain in that six days of practice was incredible. Just the different techniques that you have to use against the bigger cats in the League – coach Fraley definitely has his guys in Detroit teed up, and I’m ready to get teed up with them.”

On how much he came away from that experience thinking he would play for them in the future: “Honestly, I had zero clue. I just knew I had to build good rapport with coach Fraley and coach Yates, just have them keep me as somebody in mind. But I had no clue how this whole thing was going to unfold, but I’m happy and blessed that I’m a Detroit Lion now.”

On the takeaways from the week spent at the Senior Bowl: “Definitely just the different schemes and different combination blocks, different ways to get past that and the kind of hand usage and all those different things that go into the O-line toolbox.”

On why he transferred to Ohio State in 2019 and what he proved to NFL staffs by doing so: “I went to Ohio State just looking for opportunity, just to be able to showcase my ability and pounce on another platform. I felt like it definitely helped me – wherever I was I felt like coaches would be able to find me. But being able to go to Ohio State and hang the banner up in that indoor facility for a Big Ten Championship and being able to get the ring and the gold pants – it was awesome.”

On what goes into having the footwork to play both guard spots: “Just constant practice. Thousands and thousands of reps. Every single day, you have to hone in on your craft, so on each side – and even the center position – all three interior positions, just to keep your versatility up and the flexibility for coaches to be able to see that.”

On which guard spot he’s most comfortable at: “Wherever they need me.”

On his relationship with CB Jeff Okudah: “Jeff, he’s a brother. He’s a fellow Buckeye. We definitely built a good rapport over the short time I was there. But, a great dude and a great competitor. Somebody that I’m ready to go to war with.”

On if he knows T Taylor Decker: “No, I actually wasn’t fortunate enough to be there at Ohio State when he was there, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. Before I even knew about the NFL and everything, I knew about Taylor Decker and how dominant of a player he was. Now to be able to be a teammate of his and go under his knowledge and learn different things from him, it’ll be awesome.”

On if he heard from CB Jeff Okudah tonight: “He probably did text me. I have about 3,000 notifications on my phone right now and I’m on the phone handling some business. I’ll get to them when this is all over and done with.”

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