There have been plenty of opinions about who the Detroit Lions will pick in the NFL Draft, but folks have likely been waiting for one opinion more than most.
Recently, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper revealed his mock draft in an Insider piece, and when it came to the Lions, he had a familiar pick. With the No. 3 selection, Kiper had the team picking up cornerback Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State.
Here’s a look at what Kiper wrote as to why that was the case in the piece:
“This pick has to be on defense, right? After the Lions spent a boatload of money in free agency last year on pass rusher Trey Flowers and cornerback Justin Coleman, I thought they might take a step up. That didn’t happen in a disappointing season, as Matt Patricia’s defense gave up the NFL’s most passing yards per game (284.4) and had the second-fewest sacks (28). Combine that with a half-season from Matthew Stafford and you get 3-12-1, and now Patricia is facing a make-or-break Year 3 in Detroit.
Okudah, the top corner in this class, reminds me a little bit of Stephon Gilmore, whom Patricia coached for a season in New England. The Buckeye is also a stellar tackler off the edge. With Young off the board, Okudah is the top defender available.”
In Kiper’s mock, Joe Burrow and Chase Young come off the board at picks No. 1 and No. 2. Obviously, Okudah is going to be a common name for the Lions to be associated with in the coming months given his talent and the need of the Detroit defense on the back end.
Kiper seems to agree with this notion given what he said on the matter.
Why Jeffrey Okudah Fits the Lions
Recently, a pair of Pro Football Focus analysts explained why Okudah is such a good fit for plenty of teams, especially the Lions, and why he ranks so highly given what he did in college.
“He is the number one cornerback in this draft class. He should be, realistically, the first cornerback drafted within the top three picks in a while,” they said. “It just hasn’t happened. It’s a rare thing to see, but for our money, the second most valuable position on the football field.”
When it came to the Lions, production is the thing that should catch their eye with Okudah most of all according to the PFF folks.
“Someone like the Lions should be more than willing to make Jeffrey Okudah their first round pick with just how dominant he’s been over the course of his college career. For his entire career in college he’s allowed 5.4 yards per target. From freshman year to junior year. That’s absurd. Rare to see a guy play at that high a level,” they said.”
Detroit might not be the only team to consider Okudah heavily, but their scheme could represent the best fit given man coverage.
“Three, four and five, Lions, Giants and Dolphins all would, should consider Okudah,” they said. “I think he is that good. We always speak to this too. With Okudah and Ohio State cornerbacks, they always play a ton of man coverage, having that experience, the Lions fit is too easy.”
The smart money remains on the Lions considering Okudah strongly when all is said and done given the need, his talent and the potential to build up a miserable defense.
Jeffrey Okudah Stats
Okudah could be the best player on the board when the Lions end up picking at No. 3. As also explained elsewhere, evaluators love his length and size. It could be a winning combination for a needy Detroit pass defense that has been exposed in a major way this season on the back end.
At Ohio State, Okudah has put up some excellent numbers in a short time. He’s collected 78 tackles, 3 interceptions, 16 passes defended and 2 fumble recoveries. Perhaps better than that for the Lions, he didn’t allow a completion over 50 yards this season.
That paints the portrait of a player who can be a potential lock down defender at the next level. Kiper, like plenty of others, seem to agree with that notion.