Nothing has changed from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s most recent mock draft when it comes to the Detroit Lions and their selection at No. 3. Like his previous mock draft, Kiper has the Lions selecting Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.
"After trading away Darius Slay, the Lions brought in Desmond Trufant, but he's no longer a No. 1 corner," Kiper wrote. "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."
Trufant is a seven-year vet with a Pro Bowl under his belt (2015) and 97 career starts. The team also signed veteran Darryl Roberts, and have Justin Coleman and Amani Oruwariye in the mix at cornerback. Still, it's expected the Lions add to that group, and Okudah could make sense as the top corner in this class.
Kiper included second-round selections in his most recent mock. He has the Lions going defense again in the second round, this time addressing their need along the interior of their defensive line with TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.
"Matt Patricia really needs to fix the Lions' defense, and Blacklock could slide in as a starter next to free-agent addition Danny Shelton," Kiper wrote. "Blacklock played a lot of nose tackle at TCU, but he could rush the passer more in Detroit's 4-3 defense."
As Kiper mentioned, the Lions did add the veteran Shelton to their defensive line in free agency, along with former Chicago defensive tackle Nick Williams, but it's a unit that still needs some depth and talent to complement Da'Shawn Hand, John Atkins, Kevin Strong and others.
Blacklock recorded 40 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks playing all across TCU's defensive front. He's considered by most analysts to be the third best interior defensive lineman in this draft behind Auburn's Derrick Brown and South Carolina interior defender Javon Kinlaw.
View photos of NFL prospect Ross Blacklock.
Kiper participated in a national conference call Wednesday to coincide with the release of his mock draft. Here are some highlights from that call:
- Kiper thinks No. 3 is a little too high for Brown. He thinks Okudah and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons are better prospects, and would expect those two to be selected before Brown, if the Lions stay at No. 3 and Chase Young is off the board.
- If teams find their top needs to include wide receiver and another position, Kiper said in this draft, with the receiver class historically loaded, a lot of teams will find it more prudent to take the other position earlier and wait to grab the receiver in the next round.
- Kiper likes the depth at offensive tackle for teams looking to add to that position, especially in Day 1 and Day 2.