The final day of NFL Draft rumor mongering is here. For media consumers like yourself, that means we have just a few hours left to try and get some idea of what teams will do for Thursday night’s opening round of the 2020 NFL Draft. For NFL general managers, it means one last opportunity to throw off other teams from your scent of true intentions.
The latest rumor to drop comes from ESPN’s Dan Graziano, who suggests the Lions have done a ton of homework on Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons:
I am told Lions have had a lot of pre-draft contact with Clemson's Isaiah Simmons, who is in the mix for them at No. 3 along with Jeff Okudah, Derrick Brown, others. Lions would prefer to trade back 2-3 spots and still get one from that group, but it's unclear whether they can.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) April 23, 2020
This shouldn’t come as much surprise, as it appears the Lions are understandably trying to add a premier defensive talent with their first-round pick. As Graziano mentions, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown are also prime candidates to be chosen with Detroit’s third overall pick—or later in a trade back.
Simmons is touted as one of the best athletes this entire draft class has to offer.
Though undersized by Lions linebacker’s standards, Simmons can play all over the field, including as a nickel corner or a deep safety. That kind of versatility is bound to be valuable to the Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, who prefers to move his players all over the defense, making the team deep and unpredictable. Even though the Lions have already retooled their linebacking and safety corps with the additions of Jamie Collins Sr. and Duron Harmon, Simmons would give Detroit a playmaker they desperately need.
Even if Simmons isn’t their preferred target, the Lions are being wise doing all the research they can on the guy. If they are presented with a trade-down option they can’t refuse, Simmons remains a real possibility. There is no guarantee that a trade down to even just five would give the Lions the option of a guy like Jeff Okudah. The Atlanta Falcons, for example, have been rumored to be looking for a trade up scenario as high as two, and they are a cornerback-needy team. Simmons is a great back-up plan if the Lions miss out on Okudah.
For now, just add this to the list of late-rising rumors, which can be notoriously misleading.