Written by: JT Bowen
Welcome to the NFL Mock Draft season. We’ve finally arrived.
After what I would consider a fairly eventful playoffs, we have reached the calm before the storm of the NFL offseason. Before free agency, the Combine, and the Draft captivate us and give us false hope until September, we have a short yet extremely long period here in February of waiting.
I’ve tried to hold off on the inevitable inundation of draft content for as long as I can, but it’s become to difficult to squeeze out content regarding other things. So, I present to you today the first of many iterations of my Lions seven (but actually six) round mock draft.
It goes without saying, but this is purely speculative, and highly subject to change. Additionally, making mock drafts at this point is kind of a blind dart throw, in that free agency very much dictates how teams draft. For example, the Lions addition of Trey Flowers made all the pre-free agency mock drafts linking them to Clelin Ferrell and Brian Burns less realistic.
ROUND 1, 3rd Overall
Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State
Low-hanging fruit. Okudah has become the darling of Lions media and a hugely popular pick in many mock drafts, and for good reason.
Okudah is a tremendous player, and was indisputably the best corner in college football last year. He checks every box of a CB1 in today’s game: size, speed, ball skills, coverage abilities, and high character, with numbering statistics to back his status. He fills a massive hole at the CB2 position and would begin being groomed as Slay’s successor, and would probably be just fine at CB1 if Slay and Detroit part ways this offseason.
A common theme, across the defense, Detroit desperately needs help, but there might not be a bigger necessity than adding another corner after the Teez Tabor failure and multiple free agent signings not panning out. Adding Okudah would immediately bolster the defense, and form a tenacious duo with Slay if he remains in Detroit. Home-run pick and very safe here.
ROUND 2, 35th Overall
Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State
What a start to this draft, Mr. Quinn.
The more the draft picture comes together, the more it looks like some elite prospects could slide, as it is very possible and even likely that some quarterbacks and tackle prospects, along with the crop of talented receivers, could push other positions down the board.
In this scenario, that happens, and the talented and athletic Nittany Lion can remain one in Detroit. Gross-Matos is a freak athlete at the edge rusher position, and would immediately step in and compete for a starting role opposite Trey Flowers. He has great size, explosiveness, and a high motor, and went toe-to-toe against Ohio State and Chase Young last season. His ability to generate pass rush and hold his own against the run along with room for growth make him an intriguing selection for the Lions.
ROUND 3, 67th Overall
Jonathan Taylor, Running Back, Wisconsin
Maybe they only allowed Big Ten players to enter the draft this year.
This pick would be undoubtedly polarizing for most fans and media. And in truth, it might be nothing more than a pipe dream — there is a very solid chance Taylor doesn’t even make it out of Round 1, much less slipping into Round 3.
However, it would be a winning selection. Taylor’s profile speaks for itself — sixth in all-time NCAA rushing yards, 2x Doak Walker Award winner, 2x Unanimous First-Team All- American, 3x finisher as Top-10 in Heisman voting, and the list goes on. For three years he has consistently produced for the Badgers at a high level, and there are no questions about his ability to put up gaudy numbers.
There are legitimate questions about Taylor, though. Running backs have a short shelf life as an NFL starter, and Taylor has already tapped into his. Additionally, he is the benefactor of a Wisconsin program with mauling offensive lines, that helped produce prospects like Melvin Gordon recently.
However, Taylor’s production and consistent numbers should put to bed any concerns for Detroit. Taylor would form a solid rotation with Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough, adding another option in a backfield often marred by injury. Perhaps it’s a bit early to address the position, but Taylor is too talented and proven to pass up on.
ROUND 4, 106th Overall
Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Finally leaving the Big Ten, we turn our attention to Baylor product Denzel Mims.
Mims makes sense to Detroit for a number of reasons, the most evident of which is the extensive and close-up look Lions staff had with Mims over the course of the Senior Bowl. Mims turned in a great week of practice, and though he didn’t have a stellar outing in the actual game, undoubtedly raised his draft stock.
There is a high likelihood Mims doesn’t make it out of Day 2, pending his Combine and pre-draft workouts. But in a historically deep receiver class, he could be one that falls through the cracks.
Mims has produced well over the past three years in Waco, and should continue to in the NFL. He has a similar body type and play style to Kenny Golladay, and would help provide long-term clarity behind him at the position.
ROUND 5, 149th Overall
Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, Washington
Detroit addresses the offense for the third straight round, selecting Washington tackle Trey Adams at the top of the fifth round.
Adams is an intriguing prospect, a Platonic high-risk, high-reward player in this draft, mainly due to his extensive injury history.
Adams has had some bad luck in the past, tearing his ACL in 2017, suffering a serious back injury in 2018, and even tweaking his hamstring at the Senior Bowl a few weeks ago. This bevy of injuries would push most players with a comparable history out of the draft entirely, but Adams remains a late-day selection purely due to his play.
If not for injuries, Adams would certainly be considered among the top tackle prospects in the class. Standing at 6’8, Adams has ideal size, and is incredibly powerful. His mental fortitude is a likable trait, as he is still committed to playing professionally in spite of his injuries.
Adams could help shore up the offensive tackle position in the Motor City, adding much-needed depth and starting-caliber talent. It all boils down to his health, though.
ROUND 6, 183rd Overall
Khaleke Hudson, Linebacker (?), Michigan
Rounding out the draft, the Lions return to the Big Ten and scoop Michigan talent
Khaleke Hudson with their final selection.
Hudson is another interesting player. He was a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for Don Brown’s defense, but never really excelled in any area.
Hudson’s game is built on versatility, a trait Matt Patricia salivates over in his players. Hudson’s tweener status doesn’t project him as a superstar starter at any position, but rather a movable piece dependent on scheming and creativity from the coaching staff.
The Wolverine could be the hybrid defensive weapon the Lions thought they would get in Miles Killebrew, with toughness, tackling, and flexibility all over the field, but if he is to make a lasting impact in Allen Park, it will start with a pivotal special teams role.