DETROIT – This year, probably more so than any other year, has people absolutely pumped for the NFL Draft. It’s the “Last Dance,” and the draft -- that’s all sports fans have to look forward to.
The Detroit Lions select 3rd overall this year, the highest they have picked since drafting Ndamukong Suh second overall in 2010. Derrick Brown, a defensive tackle who has drawn some comparisons to Suh, will be available for the Lions, should they choose to improve the interior of their defensive line.
The last time the Lions held the 3rd pick, they spent it on what was supposed to be a franchise player -- quarterback Joey Harrington. I’ll spare you the details of how that turned out.
Now if the Lions want to test their luck with a quarterback again this year, they will have their pick of two highly rated signal callers in Oregon’s Justin Herbert, and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. There is also the potential of moving out of the pick overall, and trading back for extra picks. Although, that may be the best plan of attack for the Lions, it’s not always that easy to move back in the draft.
I don’t mock trades in my draft, but I will point out high points where I think trades could go down. We already know the first two picks, so at least you know I will have some right this year.
1. Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio St.
3. Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio St.
Ok, let’s talk about this one. Why pick a cornerback here? The quick answer is, Darius Slay is gone. Okudah has the ability to be a Richard Sherman level shutdown physical corner in the NFL. He’s younger, cheaper, and potentially much better than Slay was going to be as he enters his 30s.
Trading Slay to the Eagles opened up a huge void in the secondary, so it makes the most sense to draft Okudah.
On the flip side, here are some reason as to why this isn’t considered a lock pick, the way the Burrow and Young picks before are.
- There is a LOT of depth at the cornerback position in this year’s draft. Although Okudah is clearly the best player at the position, there are nine defensive backs that could go in the first two rounds, so there are a ton of options for the Lions to choose from.
- Secondary isn’t the only area of concern for the Lions. Even with all the new Patriots the Lions added to their defense this offseason, there is still room for a starter on the defensive line, and in the linebacking group. Auburn’s Derrick Brown is explosive and disruptive -- two words you love to hear when it comes to defensive tackles. Isaiah Simmons, the hybrid linebacker out of Clemson is the best athlete in the draft, something you rarely see at his position. Both players could step in and improve the Lions defense on day one.
- This pick has more value than just a cornerback. The draft essentially starts at No. 3 this year. That means that this is really the first pick that is up for grabs when it comes to trades.
Now, although I don’t think there are enough teams in position to trade up for a quarterback, Herbert and Tagovailoa are both potential franchise quarterbacks. And when there are QB’s available, trades are always on the table. Because there are three solid defensive options for the Lions with Okudah, Brown, and Simmons, trading back to No. 5 or No. 6, with the Dolphins or Chargers, is a no brainer for Detroit. You still get an impact player, and you add more draft picks.
Ultimately, Bob Quinn is going to be very busy, and if there is enough buzz coming from enough teams that makes a trade up necessary to take a QB, the Lions will be in luck. With there not being that much separating Herbert and Tagovailoa, plus guys like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton still out there, I do not think a team pulls the trigger and tries to move up to the No. 3 pick.
So why Okudah, over Brown and Simmons? It’s pretty simple -- Jeff Okudah is the safer pick. Simmons is an elite level athlete that can “wow” you with his size and speed, but no one really knows what position he will play in the NFL. Much like Jabrill Peppers, (albeit less likely) there is a chance Simmons is a great college athlete, and not a great NFL player.
With Derrick Brown, it’s not a risk of boom or bust, but a question of how impactful he can really be. Okudah will be on the opposing teams best wide receiver, and in a passing league, that is HUGE. So, even if he doesn’t get a lot of interceptions, his presence will be known, much like Stephon Gilmore. With Brown, if he doesn’t become Aaron Donald, that impact will be felt less.
Now back to the rest of the mock.
4. New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
5. Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
7. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
8. Arizona Cardinals – Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
This becomes the next trade spot, especially if the Chargers pass on Tua. Arizona already made it clear they are looking to move down, and with the Jaguars on the clock. Someone could step up to move in front of the Jags to select a quarterback.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
10. Cleveland Browns – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
11. New York Jets – Cee Dee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
12. Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
13. San Francisco 49ers – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
Both the Raiders and 49ers will listen to offers for their picks. The 49ers have said they want to acquire more picks, and the Raiders don’t have a 2nd round pick, so they are also in the market to trade back. With the run of WR’s happening here, a team like the Eagles could pick up the phone.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
15. Denver Broncos – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
16. Atlanta Falcons – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
17. Dallas Cowboys – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
18. Miami Dolphins – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
19. Las Vegas Raiders – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
With the Jaguars on the clock, there is no way they pass on him twice, so if there is any other team that wants Tua, this is the place to get him. I already mentioned that the Raiders are in the market for extra picks, maybe the Patriots move up from No. 23?
20. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
21. Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
22. Minnesota Vikings – Terrell Lewis, DE, Alabama
23. New England Patriots – A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
The Patriots pick is always up for grabs.
24. New Orleans Saints – Grant Delpit, S, LSU
25. Minnesota Vikings – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona St.
26. Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Having already made two picks in the first round, the Dolphins will listen to offers for this pick.
27. Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Mates, EDGE, Penn St.
The Seahawks pick is always up for grabs.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
29. Tennessee Titans – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
30. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
31. San Francisco 49ers – Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan
32. Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Queen, LB, LSU