The Detroit Lions pick third in the 2020 NFL draft. The question that leaps to mind: will they do the right thing for the long term health of the team? Or will they make the kind of baffling decision that marks the current era of the organization?
It’s no secret that the Lions need to shore up their defense. Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is the best option on the market. It would be downright silly to miss this guy with an early pick.
Why Jeffrey Okudah is the best choice for the Detroit Lions in particular
The Lions started strong, winning their first two games, but bottomed out quickly. They lost eight in a row immediately after and lost veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford to an injury in the process. Yet defensive deficiencies remained the main story of the 2019 Lions.
According to CBS Sports, shoring up the defense is the top priority for Detroit. And Jeffrey Okudah is easily the best cornerback in the draft. He’s so consistent, even under pressure, that a reporter was recently fired for calling Okudah “sloppy” on the gridiron.
Okudah told gathered press at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine the simple truth on the matter: “I had zero pass interferences, zero holdings … so put the tape on again.” Looking at his Sports Reference stat sheet backs up his elite record as a college player.
The Lions already have defensive end Trey Flowers ready to go. A sure-footed CB like Okudah could be more than enough to turn around Detroit’s ailing defensive line.
The stiff competition for Jeffrey Okudah in the 2020 NFL Draft
The Detroit Lions simply cannot sleep on Jeffrey Okudah, because he’ll easily go in the first round. The (soon-to-be) Las Vegas Raiders, for one, are certainly impressed by Okudah’s skillset. Head coach Jon Gruden made no effort to hide his feelings on the Ohio State favorite. The Raiders’ 12th overall pick could go to Okudah if the Lions sleep on him with the third pick.
The next most likely team is the Carolina Panthers, with their seventh overall pick. CB James Bradberry is off to free agency, creating an obvious need for a fresh face in the role. This, on a team that needs big changes in their defensive line.
The New York Giants used their top 2019 picks on their offense, so they’re due for a big defensive move. With the fourth overall pick in round one, they’re a favorite to instantly snap up Okudah if Detroit isn’t on board.
The Detroit Lions’ best alternative options for their third overall pick
The Lions would be borderline insane to skip Jeffrey Okudah with their third overall pick. But market changes as we get closer to draft day could spin the situation into unexpected directions. Especially if a QB with elite potential remains available. If something changes in the worries over Tua Tagovailoa’s health, for example, the Lions might rush in his direction instead of Okudah’s.
Chase Young is a second viable option to patch up Detroit’s defense. Sports Illustrated’s mock draft touts him as an alternative to Okudah, on the strength of his 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2019. He may be the best edge rusher in the 2020 draft. However, the cost could be trading up to number two in the draft to obtain him.
Young cuts a Joey Bosa-esque figure, and would certainly be a consolation prize for teams worried about the question marks surrounding Tagovailoa. That could put him in higher demand than it might be worth for the Lions. So why not go with the other elite defensive choice instead? That’s why the Detroit Lions would be stupid not to draft Okudah in the 2020 draft.