Mel Kiper Boosts Lions Defense Significantly With New Mock Draft

Mel Kiper

Getty Mel Kiper during the 2007 NFL Draft.

Things are coming down to the wire for the 2020 NFL Draft as well as prognosticators like Mel Kiper of ESPN, and in a new update, the Detroit Lions continue to add defensive help in his latest mock.

Kiper had the Lions going with Ohio State cornerback Jeffery Okudah again in his latest insider mock with the No. 3 pick in the draft. As he said, Okudah would give the team a big boost as it relates to their defensive backfield.

Kiper wrote:

“After trading away Darius Slay, the Lions brought in Desmond Trufant, but he’s no longer a No. 1 corner. Okudah could be that guy, and he’d instantly help the league’s last-ranked pass defense. Detroit could solicit trade offers to add valuable picks, but Matt Patricia is 9-22-1 in two seasons as coach, so he needs to win now to keep his job. His best bet might be taking the draft’s best cornerback.”

As for the second round, Kiper had the Lions picking up Ross Blacklock of TCU, a defensive lineman. Obviously, adding these players to the mix would be huge for the Lions in terms of their biggest needs on the team at this point in time.

Tua Tagovailoa Mel Kiper’s Previous Lions Pick

In his last mock prior to this one, Kiper had the Lions picking Okudah. Before that, though, Kiper revealed a previous mock in an insider piece just ahead of the NFL Combine, and had the Lions surprising with their pick. Kiper had the Lions drafting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovaiola with the No. 3 pick in the draft, and he admits they do like what they have seen out of the prospect.

Here’s part of what Kiper wrote as to why:

“The Lions say they’re not shopping quarterback Matthew Stafford, but there is some buzz that they like Tagovailoa, who might not work out for teams before April’s draft because of his hip injury. Is that just a smoke screen? We’re still two months away from the draft, of course. Stafford’s contract is extremely tough to trade in 2020 — the team could have up to a $32 million dead-cap hit — but what if Detroit likes Tagovailoa so much that it keeps Stafford on the roster for another year?”

Obviously, that tune has now changed more than a bit for Kiper.

Jeffrey Okudah Called Lions Perfect Fit

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. Okudah has also been a popular selection in mock drafts for Detroit.

Now that the Lions need a cornerback, it could make even more sense to take Okudah as Kiper now suggests.

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