One big portion of the game NFL general managers play with the NFL Draft is trying to confuse other general managers about their intentions. If you can convince a team of what you’re going to do—even if you aren’t going to do it—it could prevent them from jumping you in the draft, or even make you a more compelling trade partner on draft day.
So this week at the NFL Combine, a few reporters checked in with employees around the NFL to see what the general consensus was surrounding the Detroit Lions’ first-round pick.
First, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press asked 13 people, from general managers to scouts and coordinators and agents, what they thought the Lions would do with their pick. The result? Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah was the overwhelming prediction.
“Okudah got what I’d consider 8.5 of the 13 votes — one NFC front-office executive bent the rules and said the Lions will trade down with a quarterback-needy team and take whoever’s left of Okudah and Derrick Brown,” Birkett wrote. “Still, it was an overwhelmingly positive response from evaluators who’ve seen him play or studied his game.”
As for the other 4.5 votes, 2.5 went to Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, one was for Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young and the final vote tallied was for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
“One AFC position coach said emphatically the Lions are ‘not taking Tua,’” Birkett wrote.
That kind of certainty matches what ESPN’s Matthew Berry heard at the Combine. Berry said his source told him there was “no chance” the Lions take Tagovailoa.
In a similar endeavor, The Athletic’s Mike Sando asked an anonymous NFL general manager to predict the first 10 picks in the draft. His choice for the Lions was a very familiar one. He believes the Lions will trade down with a quarterback-needy team—in this instance, the Miami Dolphins—and the select Okudah.
“I think Detroit is going to trade the pick. Put Tua in there, but they will trade the pick,” the GM said. “Someone else will take Tua.”
So it appears most NFL teams believe the Lions will end up with Okudah one way or another. If that is the Lions’ intention—and it would make a lot of sense if it is—they aren’t hiding it very well. Of course, with Okudah almost guaranteed to be there a three, there isn’t much need for the Lions to hide their intentions, unless they’re really trying to trade down and still get him. And even then, the thirst for a franchise quarterback may be too strong for it to matter.