Get ready to see a lot more of this.
On Tuesday, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. dropped his third mock draft, this one taking into account the first wave for NFL free agency. And Kiper’s pick for the Detroit Lions—and really for all of the top three selections—was predictable.
Kiper slotted Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Lions, after LSU quarterback Joe Burrow went to the Bengals first overall, and Washington picked edge rusher Chase Young. That being said, Kiper believes the Lions’ best-case scenario still involves a trade down.
“The Lions’ best-case scenario with this pick? Field offers for teams trying to trade up to draft Tua Tagovailoa — the Dolphins (Nos. 5, 18 and 26 picks) and Chargers (No. 6 pick) make the most sense — and still land Okudah,” Kiper wrote. “That would give them extra premium draft picks and the top corner in the class to replace Darius Slay and pair with free-agent signing Desmond Trufant.”
Prior to free agency, Okudah was easily the most common pick for the Lions in various mock drafts. Now with Slay in Philly, Detroit’s need for a cornerback talent is there for all to see. Even with the recent signing of Trufant, that only gives the Lions a couple years of potential CB1 play. Detroit has no clear plan for the future at cornerback, and Okudah gives them the best opportunity to lock that down.
In Kiper’s previous mocks, he’s chosen Okudah once, and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa once. Tagovailoa is in a difficult spot right now. His biggest question mark is his health following a serious hip injury suffered in 2019. Unfortunately for Tagovailoa, NFL teams are not currently permitted to perform physicals on draft prospect due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, Tagovailoa did recently post a series of videos to Instagram of him dropping back and throwing the ball, moving very comfortably in the process.
Whether the Lions are interested or not, Tagovailoa’s health matters to Detroit. Their ability to trade out of the third overall pick and accumulate more draft choices is highly dependent on another team’s confidence in the Alabama quarterback’s health and future. Tagovailoa looks pretty healthy from the video above, but that pales in comparison to a full, healthy physical.
For now, the safe play for the Lions is to stick at three and just take Okudah, and Kiper knows it.