No.3, Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
The draft really starts here. The first two picks are set in stone. Joe Burrow to the Bengals has been obvious since halfway through the college football season, and Washington – despite rumors about them going QB – seems locked in with Chase Young and at least one of the quarterbacks on their roster, even if it’s not their first round pick from last year.
Jeff Okudah has been the popular pick to the Lions at No.3 overall, and it’s what we’re going with. But there is certainly a case for someone like Derrick Brown here, which has been mocked elsewhere on the internet. The Lions are paying cornerback Justin Coleman $9 million a year for the next three seasons, and just inked former Falcons CB Desmond Trufant to a two year, $21 million contract. They’ve already done a lot to replace Darius Slay and Rashaad Melvin, and although Detroit played with three corners 75 percent of the time last season, they could be better off using this pick in areas other than their secondary.
The signing of defensive end Trey Flowers last offseason hasn’t exactly paid off, and Brown would plug a hole next to Danny Shelton and fit head coach Matt Patricia’s ideals. Brown and Shelton would be a running back’s nightmare, and the former Auburn stud is a good pass-rusher for his size and position.
But, there’s a reason Trufant was cut by Atlanta, and the Coleman contract already looks like a bit of an overpay. Okudah has the chance to have an impact in Year 1 similar to another former Buckeye DB, Marshon Lattimore. That might be too good for the Lions to pass up on.
There’s another direction Detroit could go here, though it’s quite unlikely. Tua Tagovailoa is sitting there like a get out of jail free card. As written a month ago, moving on from Stafford is not a typical Lions move. Their organization just doesn’t make major changes like that on a whim. But if the Lions want to get out of their elongated phase of mediocrity, getting a new signal-callar – and a potentially generational one – wouldn’t be a bad start.
A quarterback could easily go No.3 overall Thursday night, just not to Detroit. The Dolphins and Chargers have long been rumored to be competing with one another for a quarterback at the top. With concerns about Tagovailoa being floated out there, it’s possible it’s a ploy by one of the two organizations to bring his value down and not encourage the other to trade up and take him. It’s also possible that both Los Angeles and Miami are sour on him, and the competition is for Justin Herbert rather than Tagovailoa.
No matter what, it puts the Lions in a fantastic spot. Okudah will certainly still be there at No. 5 or No. 6 overall. The Giants signed former Panthers CB James Bradberry to big money and have last year’s second rounder Deandre Baker on the other side at corner – offensive line seems most likely for them. If Miami is jumped by Los Angeles for a QB, and Detroit falls to No.6, the Dolphins will likely take the other signal-caller remaining at No.5 overall or could go anywhere but cornerback, where Xavien Howard and Byron Jones currently reside.
If either Miami or Los Angeles wants to come up, it’d basically be extra draft capital at no loss for the Lions. It turns out controlling the draft is pretty good after all.