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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Early predictions have Lions going defense at 3

For the 30 NFL franchises and fan bases not taking part in this week's Super Bowl festivities in Miami, the focus has turned to the offseason, and the start of free agency and their preparations for April's NFL Draft.

It's officially the beginning of mock draft season around the NFL, and today we take our first look at who some of the early mock drafts have the Detroit Lions selecting with the No. 3 overall pick. Spoiler alert – it's heavy on defense:

Daniel Jeremiah, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Detroit could easily auction off this slot to those teams in search of a quarterback. If the Lions stick and pick, Okudah would provide a much-needed upgrade in their secondary.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: This pick has to be on defense, right? After the Lions spent a boatload of money in free agency last year on pass-rusher Trey Flowers and corner Justin Coleman, I thought they might take a step up. That didn't happen in a disappointing season, as Matt Patricia's defense gave up the NFL's most passing yards per game (284.4) and had the second-fewest sacks (28). Combine that with a half-season from Matthew Stafford and you get 3-12-1, and now Patricia is facing a make-or-break Year 3 in Detroit.

Okudah, the top corner in this class, reminds me a little bit of Stephon Gilmore, whom Patricia coached for a season in New England. The Buckeye is also a stellar tackler off the edge. With Young off the board, Okudah is the top defender available.

Ryan Wilson, Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: The Lions are coming off a three-win campaign and coach Matt Patricia needs to have a solid showing in 2020. Detroit has needs along the defensive line, and Brown is the top player at that position after a strong showing with the Tigers in '19.

Chris Trapasso, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The top three have been locked in for a while. With Young gone, the Lions improve the defense with the best cornerback in this class.

Kevin Hanson, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Positioned well to move back to acquire more draft capital, the Lions could potentially auction off this slot to the Dolphins to secure Tua Tagovailoa's services or to a QB-needy team that wants to get in front of Miami. If they hold steady here, this pick could come down to Auburn's Derrick Brown or Okudah, who led the Buckeyes with three interceptions and passes defended in 2019. The Lions are one of three defenses to record a league-low seven interceptions in 2019, and Darius Slay is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the '20 season. Okudah has the size (6' 1", 200 pounds), fluidity and athleticism to develop into a lockdown corner.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: If the first two picks are chalk with Burrow and Young, the third pick is prime real estate and the most likely spot for a trade if Tagovailoa is healthy. But if the Lions stay put, Okudah is a big-time talent at one of the most important positions, especially for the Lions. It would mark the first time since 2000 that the first two defensive players drafted were from the same school.

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz. USA Today: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Tua Tagovailoa's entry into the draft creates an interesting dynamic at this slot, as a bidding war for a quarterback could benefit Detroit. Might some team offer a package similar to what the Jets conceded to the Colts in 2018 (three second-round picks) to move from No. 6 to No. 3? Okudah is hardly a consolation prize, however, as he's in a tier of his own at an all-important position.

Jason McIntyre, FOX Sports: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Why: The most versatile defender in the draft will probably have a huge impact on Trey Flowers and promising young LBs Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones.

Charlie Campbell, Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: Detroit's defense was a massive disappointment in 2019. A'Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels are entering free agency and may not be re-signed. Here's a versatile defender who could dominate between Snacks Harrison and Trey Flowers. 

Brown had 55 tackles with four sacks, four passes batted and two forced fumbles in 2019. Against Oregon and Texas A&M, he was very disruptive and made a lot of superb plays that showed off his tremendous skill set. 

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: The Lions could go a number of ways with the third pick, and that could spark a trade-down scenario. That will be explored in a future mock draft — in two weeks actually, so mark your calendar. If the Lions can move around and still land Brown, they should do it. Head coach Matt Patricia stressed getting pressure up the middle, and Brown can destroy a pocket.

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Jeff Okudah, CB Ohio State

Why: The Lions could be in a great spot here if Tua Tagovailoa rehabs well and receives good news about his hip. This might be where the trade activity kicks off. Detroit has a lot of needs to fill, and it's seeking instant contributors, one might safely assume. With Darius Slay's future a bit unclear (and a need at corner anyway), we'll go with Okudah, our highest-rated DB in this class.

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: These top three picks are set in stone for any future GM mock until we start incorporating trades. Okudah passed his final collegiate test with flying colors against Clemson's pair of NFL wide receivers. He was targeted 10 times in the playoff semifinals and allowed only five catches for 47 yards while breaking up two passes. Put him across from Darius Slay, and watch your pass defense transform overnight.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: The Lions were terrible against the run in 2019, and Matt Patricia, with some fading talent in the middle of his defensive front, could use an elite run-stuffer with some excellent inside pass-rush juice. Brown would do nicely. At 6-5, 318 pounds, he is a quick disruptor who makes a lot of plays in the backfield. The Lions can also consider the edge here, but Brown is the best pure lineman in the class, period.

Steve Serby, New York Post: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: A long shutdown corner to play opposite Darius Slay, who could be a contract holdout, is imperative, especially when you face Aaron Rodgers twice a year. Wonderful athlete. A man-to-man cover-corner nightmare for wide receivers. "Needs to smooth out the rough edges of his ball skills plus become a more secure tackler," Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline says.

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