DETROIT – The Detroit Lions have selected Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with their first pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Okudah was one of the top players linked to the Lions, especially after former No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In three seasons with the Buckeyes, Okudah defended 18 passes and made three interceptions in 35 games. He also had 83 tackles and was widely considered the best defensive back in the country.
Okudah is listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. He ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
Who else was available?
Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons was another player the Lions were thought to be considering.
Simmons led Clemson’s defense to two national championships and racked up 238 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, four interceptions and 20 passes defended throughout his career. His ability to defend the run and the pass, both as a pass rusher and in coverage, makes him one of the top defenders in the draft.
Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown was another possible fit in Detroit. The Lions had a miserable pass rush in 2019-20 despite investing heavily in the defensive line during free agency.
Brown played 46 games at Auburn in his career, making 170 tackles and 12.5 sacks on the interior of the defensive line. He was a monster against the run, racking up 33 tackles for loss. Brown would have been a nice anchor along the defensive line after the departure of Damon Harrison.
Lions feeling pressure
Matt Patricia is feeling pressure to win now after finishing 3-12-1 in his second season with the Lions. Quinn figures to be on a similar hot seat after hiring Patricia and seeing him go just 9-22-1 over the last two years.
An injury to quarterback Matthew Stafford derailed the 2019-20 season, but the Lions’ losing tradition dates back 63 years. Since winning the championship in 1957, the Lions have made the playoffs just 12 times, going 1-12 with one divisional round win in January 1992.
The Lions made the postseason three times in six seasons from 2011 to 2016, but haven’t been back since.