ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has switched gears a bit as it relates to the Detroit Lions and the No. 3 overall pick in his latest mock draft.
Before free agency, Kiper had the Lions taking Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 3 pick. But a lot has changed in the last few weeks, particularly the Lions getting quarterback help in free agency with the signing of Chase Daniel, and then also trading Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles.
As a result, Kiper now mocks Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Lions.
"The Lions' best-case scenario with this pick? Field offers for teams trying to trade up to draft Tua Tagovailoa - the Dolphins (Picks 5, 18 and 26) and Chargers (No. 6 pick) make the most sense - and still land Okudah," Kiper wrote. "That would give them extra premium draft picks and the top corner in the class to replace Darius Slay and pair with free-agent signing Desmond Trufant.
"After a 3-12-1 season, general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia need wins now, and the additions of Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Nick Williams will help their defense immediately."
Kiper held a national conference call to coincide with the release of his mock draft.
Here are some highlights from that call:
1. If the Lions do take Okudah at No. 3, what positions could they turn to with the third pick in the second round? Kiper suggested potentially interior offensive line or outside linebacker.
He mentioned Robert Hunt (Louisiana-Lafayette), Ben Bredeson (Michigan) and Damien Lewis (LSU) as potential interior offensive line picks. He named Zach Baun (Wisconsin), Josh Uche (Michigan) and Terrell Lewis (Alabama) as potential outside linebacker picks for Detroit in the second round.
2. Kiper said Detroit is in a perfect situation with the No. 3 overall pick to trade back to No. 5 if Miami wants to move up to grab a quarterback. He said they can move back and still get Okudah or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons at No. 5.
"You're not going to lose anything if you're the Lions," Kiper said of that scenario.
3. Kiper compared Okudah to current Pro Bowl cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Patrick Peterson.
4. Who are the most NFL ready prospects? Players that can step in right away and make an impact. Kiper's top three were Simmons, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
5. It's been well documented how talented and deep this year's wide receiver class is. How does Kiper rank the top five at the position? Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Henry Ruggs III (Alabama), Tee Higgins (Clemson) and Justin Jefferson (LSU). Later, Kiper said this receiver class is so stacked, there could be players not drafted that make NFL rosters in the fall.
6. Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara's younger brother, Julian Okwara, is in this draft. The former Notre Dame pass rusher is long and athletic (6-4, 252), and had a terrific 2018 season with 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Coming off a broken leg suffered last season, Okwara didn't compete at the Combine and was hoping to test and show scouts what he could do at his Pro Day.
Those workouts have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kiper said that it makes Okwara an interesting prospect. Teams could get a nice player in him in the late second or early third round.