MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Pre-Combine picks still leaning defense

The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis next week, and there will be some shifting up and down among this year's draft prospects, based on the medical exams, interviews, testing and on-field workouts. Every year there are players who help their cause in Indy, just like there are some who hurt their draft stock.

The mock drafts are likely to look a little different post-Combine, so let's take one more look at the pre-Combine predictions.

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.

Bucky Brooks, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Detroit doesn't typically take corners on Day 1, but Okudah's game matches the Lions' scheme and fills their biggest defensive need.

Lance Zierlein, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Easy slot to fill with the Lions needing help opposite Darius Slay and Okudah possessing all the traits Matt Patricia could want.

Charlie Casserly, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Detroit needs to upgrade the pass rush, and Derrick Brown is the best D-lineman on the board. That said, I gave them Okudah because I have him rated higher than Brown. Not to mention, the Lions have a need at CB (even more so with the uncertainty surrounding Darius Slay). And of course, better coverage helps the pass rush get home.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Detroit gets the most talented cornerback in this draft class to pair with three-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay, assuming he remains a Lion this offseason.

Chad Reuter, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Okudah's speed, size and length offer a rare combination at the position. The Lions allowed a league-worst 284.4 pass yards a game in 2019 and tied for the fewest interceptions in the league (seven).

Mel Kiper Jr., Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Why: The Lions say they're not shopping quarterback Matthew Stafford, but there is some buzz that they like Tagovailoa, who might not work out for teams before April's draft because of his hip injury. Is that just a smoke screen? We're still two months away from the draft, of course ... Everything is in play here, and since I'm not going to project trades, I'll stick with Tagovailoa at No. 3.

Todd McShay, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The Lions had the NFL's worst pass defense, allowing 284.4 yards through the air per game, and tied for a league-worst seven interceptions. Darius Slay is 29 years old, Justin Coleman fits better in a nickel role and Rashaan Melvin is a free agent, so Detroit might look to address cornerback with a first-round pick for the first time since 1998 (Terry Fair).

Pete Prisco, CBSSports: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: They could consider corner here, but Brown is too good to pass up. He is a force who might end up being the best defensive player in this draft.

Ryan Wilson, Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Why: The Lions' D-line ranked 31st in getting after the quarterback, according to Football Outsiders, and the entire defense ranked 29th in pass rush. You know what fixes that? The best edge rusher in college football.

Chris Trapasso, Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Why: The Lions signed Trey Flowers in free agency a year ago but still have a pass-rushing problem. And that issue is fixed with Young at No. 3.

View photos of's top edge prospects attending the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.

Will Brinson, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The Lions could go QB here in theory or auction off the pick (I think the latter is more likely), but they also need to win now and so they add a player in Okudah who can help improve their defense immediately.

R.J. White Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: The Lions can use help at a lot of positions, and could even consider going QB here. But Brown gets the edge over Jeff Okudah due to the completeness of his game, and the Lions are losing a lot of snaps at DT to free agency.

Tom Fornelli, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The Lions trade down three spots and end up with the corner everybody is mocking to them at No. 3 while adding more picks to their arsenal. Pretty good move for Detroit!

Kevin Hanson, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: This would be a no-brainer trade-back scenario for Detroit as they get the prospect I slotted to them in my previous mock and add two Day 2 picks. Not only were the Lions tied for a league-low seven interceptions in 2019, but Darius Slay is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. Leading the Buckeyes with three interceptions in 2019, Okudah is a complete corner with an ideal blend of size (6' 1", 200 pounds), athleticism and fluidity to develop into a shutdown corner at the next level.

Roy Larking, Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: After finishing last in total pass defense and interceptions, plus in the bottom four in touchdown passes allowed, Detroit needs secondary help. Drafting Okudah would be a solid first step as he often draws comparisons to Jalen Ramsey.

Doug Farrar, USA Today: Chase Young, defensive end, Ohio State

Why: So, if the Redskins turn the 2020 draft upside down by not taking Chase Young, Matt Patricia's Lions get an unrivaled edge-rusher, which is one of many things Detroit's defense needs ... Young is a game-wrecker at the level of the Bosa brothers — and he'll make every part of Detroit's defense better by that standard alone.

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

Why: With Matthew Stafford trade speculation summarily dismissed by GM Bob Quinn, the most pressing question of Detroit's offseason still hinges on whether a quarterback-hungry team will offer a bounty for this selection — and whether the Lions would accept such a package. Part of that equation should entail weighing the risk of losing out on Okudah, who has a good case to trail only his ex-Buckeye teammate Young among this draft's premiere defensive talents.

Nate Davis, USA Today: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The draft might really start here as it's easy to envision other teams inquiring about this selection. But let's save the trade speculation until this whole process unfolds at least a bit more. Okudah would clearly bolster the league's worst pass defense, one that's set to lose Pro Bowl CB Darius Slay to free agency a year from now.

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

Why: The Lions nab the best cover man in the draft. With Darius Slay's future in Detroit unclear, it would make a lot of sense.

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

Why: The Lions add an extra first-rounder and still get their guy. Okudah was tailor-made to play in a man-heavy defense like Matt Patricia's. He allowed only 12 first downs and one touchdown last season.

Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn need to think about the best defensive player available, and drafting a cornerback to support Darius Slay, who's going into his age-29 season, isn't a bad route. Okudah, an elite ball hawk at 6-1, 200 pounds, has the build to handle receivers of all sizes. He is fluid and quick enough with great recovery skills in coverage to develop into a shutdown type with his strengths showing up in press man.

Nick Klopsis, Newsday: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Why: The Lions allowed an NFL-worst 285.2 passing yards per game in 2019 and might opt to trade star cornerback Darius Slay in the offseason rather than give him a contract extension. Okudah is the latest Ohio State defensive back to garner first-round attention. The 6-1, 200-pounder has excellent technique and athleticism and can play both man and zone coverage.

Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Why: The Lions would be foolish to even wait a whole second to submit their card if they have a chance to obtain Chase Young. He would fill a huge need, and he'd be a steal as the best player in the 2020 NFL Draft class at No. 3 overall.

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn

Why: Detroit's defense was a massive disappointment in 2019 and the interior defensive line is the biggest need on their roster. A'Shawn Robinson and Mike Daniels are entering free agency and may not be re-signed, plus there is talk Snacks Harrison may retire before too long. Da'Shawn Hand is talented but can't stay healthy. Here's a versatile defender who could dominate next to Trey Flowers.