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NFL mock draft: The Detroit Lions select Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook

The Detroit Lions add a fourth defender with pick No. 66 in Pride of Detroit’s community mock draft.

Cincinnati v Tulane Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Once the 66th pick is made by the Detroit Lions, the Pride of Detroit community mock draft will come to a close. Over the last month, our readers have been making their selections—which you can see the results of in our Community Mock Draft tracker—and this will be the final piece in the collection.

So you don’t have to search through the tracker to find the Lions’ first three picks, here are the links to the articles focused on the picks previously selected for Detroit:

Heading into this pick, the top options remaining on the board include:

  • QB, Matt Corral, Mississippi
  • WR, Khalil Shakir, Boise State
  • TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA
  • LB Channing Tindall, Georgia
  • CB, Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
  • S, Bryan Cook, Cincinnati
  • S, Nick Cross, Maryland
  • S, Kerby Joseph, Illinois

In our “who should the Lions select” poll of these top options, Corral was the favorite with 25 percent of the vote, Joseph was next with 23 percent, with the rest receiving 12-percent or less of the vote, at the time of this publishing.

Erik’s thought process

Corral is an intriguing option, and the Lions could get him at a value as he is not expected to get out of the early parts of Round 2. But in an effort to try and keep this mock draft somewhat realistic, I opted to not select him for this pick. I also debated going with an offensive pass catcher or adding another Georgia defender, but at the end of the day, the best value for the Lions at this pick is in the secondary.

Bryant is one of my favorite sleeper corners, but I also think there’s a chance he might be there at pick No. 97, and the three safeties available represent better value as players, and at a larger position of need.

Honestly, all three are very close on my draft board, and all are worthy of this pick in my mind. The question becomes: what type of safety are the Lions looking to add?

Let’s take a closer look at the three options.

Bryan Cook, Cincinnati, 6-foot-1, 206

2021 snap counts: Free safety (32%), Box (43%), Slot (22%), Outside CB (3%)

A former corner at Howard, Cook transferred to Cincinnati in 2019 and was a reserve in 2020 behind two NFL safeties (Washington’s Darrick Forrest and Arizona’s James Wiggins) before taking over a starting role last season.

Cook played all over the field for the Bearcats. He is reliable and sound in each role and is rarely out of position, staying square and ready to pounce. He stalks the field with an enforcer’s mentality and backs it up with aggressive play both against the run and in coverage. He is quick to process the situation unfolding in front of him, and he has instant reactions that result in big plays.

His size/speed combination is NFL ready and he is as proficient a tackler as there is in this class. He loves to hit with violence, yet remains a sure tackler, rarely missing with a 93 percent tackle success rate.

Against the run, he fills gaps with a downhill mentality, comfortably working from the box. In coverage, he can match up with tight ends and running backs in the slot with ease, while also dropping to single-high and playing a deep zone. In 2021, Cook had 11 pass breakups, two interceptions, and didn’t allow a single touchdown through the air.

Nick Cross, Maryland, 6-foot-0, 212

2021 snap counts: Free Safety (54%), Box (36%), Slot (7%), Outside CB (3%)

Cross’ snap counts closely mirror those of the Lions' safeties, which could make transitioning to Detroit’s defense smooth. He is very comfortable in single-high—which may be his best position—and he has elite range due to his 4.34-second 40-yard dash speed, which represents the actual speed he plays at.

He is a perfect split-zone safety, as he is comfortable dropping deep or shifting up into the box. He is explosive and can get to almost any spot on the field he wants to on any given play. He takes nice angles in coverage and can make plays on the ball, recording seven pass breakups and three interceptions in 2021. But, his desire to be a playmaker can cost him, as he can be fooled, and he will need to be more disciplined in the NFL.

As a run defender, he plays downhill and fills with aggression. When he meets the ball carrier in tackling situations, he can be a little Jekyll and Hyde-ish, as sometimes he hits with aggression—which can be a thing of beauty—and others he settles and allows himself to be run over.

Kerby Joseph, Illinois, 6-foot-1, 203

2021 snap counts: Free Safety (61%), Box (29%), Slot (9%), Outside CB (1%)

Like Cross, Joseph has a snap distribution similar to how the Lions deploy their safeties and he is very comfortable in single-high. He’s not as fast as Cross, but he is by no means limited in his field range, as he can get to where he needs to be on schedule.

Joseph is an experienced split-zone safety and thrives by being able to see the play develop in front of him, where he is quick to react with full confidence and no hesitation. A playmaker at his core, Joseph uses his 33-inch arm length to make plays on the ball, and he recorded seven pass breakups and five interceptions last season.

In coverage, things are easy and his movements are fluid. He has the ability to adjust to quick changes in route directions which keeps him in the action at all times. He is a sound tackler, but he lacks functional strength and is not always strong enough to maintain the tackle. He is also likely a Day 1 starter at gunner on special teams.

Joseph came to Allen Park on a top-30 pre-draft visit earlier this month, and his playstyle similarities to the Rams’ 2019 second-round safety Taylor Rapp—Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes was part of the front office that drafted him—certainly has Detroit’s attention.

With pick No. 66, the Lions select: Bryan Cook

This was a difficult decision for me, as I like all three safeties and could see an argument for why any one of them should be the selection. But at the end of the day, Cook is the more complete player right now and his passion for football, along with his tackling proficiency makes him my choice.

Now it’s your turn. Vote for a grade and sound off in the comments.

Poll

What grade would you give this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    A
    (277 votes)
  • 41%
    B
    (363 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (161 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (35 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (33 votes)
869 votes total Vote Now