Road to the Draft

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Highlights from Daniel Jeremiah's conference call

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah mocked Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Detroit Lions at No. 3 in his latest mock draft.

"Okudah is the premier player at his position in this draft and fills a massive need on the Lions' defense," Jeremiah wrote.

Jeremiah doubled down on that belief in a conference call Thursday, calling Okudah the safest pick of the top tier defenders who are expected to be in the mix for the Lions with the No. 3 pick, a list that also includes Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown.

"I would put Okudah down as the safest for me," Jeremiah said. "I know exactly what position he plays, I've seen him play that position against elite competition and I've seen him play at a very high, consistent level. To me, Okudah is the safest."

Okudah has ideal size, length and competitiveness for the position. He's effective in both press and off coverage and a dependable open-field tackler. He's the best cornerback in the draft, and would fit perfectly in Detroit's man-coverage scheme.

While Okudah is Jeremiah's safest pick, he thinks Simmons could have the most upside of the three.

"Because of all the things he can do, he's a special athlete and gives you so much flexibility as a defensive coordinator," Jeremiah said of Simmons. "When I'm stacking those guys how I've graded them, I have it Isaiah Simmons, Okudah and then Brown in my next (Top 50) list that's coming out here pretty soon."

Simmons has a rare combination of speed, length and toughness. He played linebacker, safety and even rushed the passer from the edge for Clemson, notching 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and eight pass breakups last season.

"I think Simmons has the most upside, but there's a little bit of risk there just because he does so many different things," Jeremiah said. "You have to hope you can get him to become comfortable before you really start expanding his role."

View photos of NFL prospect Isaiah Simmons.

When it comes to Brown, Jeremiah said he's a tremendous interior defender against the run, but sees some limitations with him as a pass rusher.

"He can collapse the pocket," Jeremiah said of Brown. "He impacts the game on a down-by-down basis, but he's not an elite pass rusher."

Brown posted 55 tackles for the Tigers last year, tied for the team lead with 12.5 tackles for loss, but had just four sacks. Jeremiah said his new list will have Brown as the No. 5 overall prospect in the class, behind Simmons and Okudah.

However the top of the draft unfolds, the Lions and general manager Bob Quinn are in a terrific position at No. 3 to get one of these talented young defensive prospects, if that's the way they want to go, assuming quarterback Joe Burrow goes No. 1 overall to Cincinnati and the Redskins snag elite edge rusher Chase Young at No. 2.

Quinn could also move back a few spots, pick up some draft capital, and still be in a position to grab one of these impact defenders. The Lions have options, and they're in a great spot to get impact players in hopes of turning things around quickly in 2020.

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