You’d think with the third overall pick, the Detroit Lions’ intentions in the first round would be clear by now. And while many believe Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah may be the most logical choice for Detroit, there seems to be some more doubt as of late.
And then there’s the entire trade-down speculation. At first, it seemed like the Lions could be in for a bounty with both the Chargers and the Dolphins looking extremely quarterback hungry. Then the increasing doubt in Tua Tagovailoa’s health seemed to have pushed down the value of Detroit’s pick, and now some are speculating Detroit could have trouble to find a pick at all, while others are reporting that Washington is receiving trade-down offers.
Of course, Derrick Brown and Isaiah Simmons remain potential wild cards for the Lions at three, and there’s always a chance Detroit picks someone no one is mocking to them, much like the Raiders did with Clelin Ferrell last year with the fourth overall pick.
So I’m here to throw some percentages around. This is in no way a scientific or mathematical model. This is simply based on the accumulation of rumors throughout draft position, plus my own views of what the Lions desire and how the draft class lines up with those wants.
So here are my best guesses at the likelihood of several different scenarios the Lions take with the third overall pick.
Draft Jeff Okudah at third overall - 40% chance
Without a doubt, Jeff Okudah is the prospect that makes the most sense to Detroit. He’s got the size and length the Lions love in a cornerback. He’s fantastic in man-coverage, which the Lions run more than the majority of teams in the NFL. And he fills a top-three need for this team.
Many will argue the value of a cornerback is not worth a top-three pick, but I couldn’t disagree more. Cornerback is more valuable now more than ever, and some even argue that coverage is a more key component of a successful defense than pass rush.
Trade down - 35% chance
If I’m the Lions, I’m taking almost any offer from the Chargers or Dolphins. I feel confident they can get a top defensive player at five or six, and adding another top 40 player would be huge for this team.
I just don’t get an overall sense of how likely this is. The Miami Dolphins have done an excellent job hiding their intentions. We’ve heard rumors that they’re trying to trade up to the first overall pick. We’ve heard rumors they love Tua Tagovailoa. We’ve heard rumors they’re not going to risk it with Tua Tagovailoa. We’ve basically heard every possible rumor, but I’m just not completely convinced they even need to move up to grab a top quarterback.
The Chargers, in my opinion, seem like the more likely team to trade up to try and jump the Dolphins, but they’ve been eerily quiet.
I just don’t have a good read here, but this should still be the Lions’ priority.
Draft Derrick Brown - 15% chance
Lions fans don’t want to hear it, but Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is just the kind of prospect I can see this coaching staff falling in love with, and there are rumors floating around that they already have.
Damon Harrison Sr. didn’t want to play the nose and three-tech positions, but Brown is perfectly capable of it. And while questioning the value of a defensive tackle at third overall is a reasonable take to have, we all saw the defensive transformation this team made when Harrison was playing at his best.
Plus, Brown provides a lot more pass rush than you think.
Draft Isaiah Simmons - 7% chance
What’s the one word we consistently hear from Lions coaches about the identity they want from their defense?
This team wants to be multiple, and there is no player more multiple than Clemson linebacker/safety/cornerback/edge defender/wunderkind Isaiah Simmons.
In Detroit, he’d probably fit best as a safety who can drop into the box, and the reason I have him as such a low probability is simply because the Lions already have two of those in Will Harris and Tracy Walker.
The Lions love their safeties, so there is certainly still a chance Simmons lands in Detroit, but I’d be mildly surprised.
Draft Chase Young - 2% chance
I’m sorry, dreamers, I just don’t believe it will happen. Even after today’s report that teams are calling Washington, there are far too many reports out there that they are borderline obsessed with him, despite drafting several defensive ends in the past few drafts.
Draft their top offensive tackle: 1% chance
Bob Quinn’s recent comments on free agent signing Halapoulivaati Vaitai leads me to believe we shouldn’t completely rule out a top offensive tackle with Detroit’s first-round pick.
“Does he have the ability to play right tackle? Absolutely. Can he go inside and play guard at a high level? We think he can,” Quinn said. “So, that’s one of the reasons why he was kind of a target for us because depending upon what happens in the draft and the rest of free agency, we feel like we can plug him into either spot.”
He basically seems to be telegraphing that Detroit plans to draft an offensive lineman here. So will it be an offensive tackle early, pushing Vaitai to guard or an interior guy later in the draft, keeping Vaitai on the outside. The latter makes more sense to me, given Vaitai’s extensive experience at tackle, but you never know.