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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 cornerbacks that could interest Lions

Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah had his own mini-scouting report on the Detroit Lions when he arrived at the Combine in February.

It showed Okudah's overall approach to football that the mental part of the game was as important to him as performing well in the physical drills.

Not knowing if he will be drafted by the Lions, who go into the first round on April 23 with the third pick, Okudah already had an insight into the cover scheme Lions head coach Matt Patricia likes his cornerbacks to play.

"I know Patricia is a heavy man-to-man guy," Okudah said when asked what he knows about the Lions. "Coming from the Patriots, they run a lot of man-to-man. They're allowing man-to-man matches to let the defensive line get home.

"So I've been studying a lot of those top groups. I think I'm really cover versatile. So I'm trying to figure out what the best fit would be."

Okudah is the top-rated cornerback in the draft by a wide margin. There are a number of solid prospects with first-round potential.

"The secondary has some depth," is how Lions general manager Bob Quinn put it in his Combine interview.

The secondary also has a star – Okudah.

Following is a look at how the Lions' cornerbacks stand going into the draft, with a breakdown on five prospects and one sleeper who could fit the Lions at some level.

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 cornerback draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

Lions cornerback draft status: Offseason moves leave an opening to take a cornerback high. The Lions need to upgrade their pass defense. They had only 28 sacks and seven interceptions last season.

Lions depth chart:

Returning: Jamal Agnew, Justin Coleman, Mike Jackson, Amani Oruwariye

Added: Desmond Trufant, Darryl Roberts, Tony McRae

Cornerback prospects

1. Jeff Okudah, Ohio State.

6-1, 205. 4.48 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years, 41 games. Big 2019 season – all three career interceptions and nine of 17 pass breakups.

Breakdown: Clear No. 1 cornerback prospect. While 4.48 40 time wasn't scintillating, it was more than good enough – especially with a 41-inch vertical jump and athleticism in other drills.

Where he could fit Lions: If the Lions draft a cornerback first, he's an opening-day starter with talent who studies his position.

2. C.J. Henderson, Florida.

6-1, 204. 4.39 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years. 2018, 2019: 22 starts. All 6 interceptions were in first two seasons.

Breakdown: Gets to the ball. Showed what was to come as a freshman with 4 interceptions, returning one for a TD in two straight games. He had 18 pass breakups in 22 games his last two seasons.

How he could fit Lions: He uses good size and speed to get to the ball. He could be available lower in the first round with a pick used from a trade.

3. Trevon Diggs, Alabama.

6-1, 205. No Combine workout.

Stats: 4 years, 46 games. Played offense as a 2016 freshman, switched to defense in 2017. Three of four career interceptions were in 2019.

Breakdown: Younger brother of NFL wide receiver Stefon Diggs, recently traded to Bills after five seasons with Vikings. Trevon said at the Combine that Stefon has been a mentor.

"I always ask him everything, no matter what," Trevon said. "Two o'clock in the morning, I'm asking him questions."

How he could fit Lions: Should be NFL ready sooner than most prospects from having a brother in the NFL to go with Alabama experience. Experience returning punts and kickoffs adds value.

4. Kristian Fulton, LSU.

6-0, 197. 4.46 Combine 40.

Stats: 25 games last two seasons, 23 pass breakups.

Breakdown: Played briefly in 2016 and missed all of 2017 because of an NCAA suspension. Returned in 2018 and missed three games with an ankle injury. Tested well at the Combine.

How he could fit Lions: Strong player who can play man coverage outside. One of a handful of Day 2 possibilities.

5. Jaylon Johnson, Utah.

6-0, 193. 4.50 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years, 38 games, 29 starts. Seven career interceptions, 28 passes defensed with 13 in 2019.

Breakdown: Solid, competitor who has shown he can cover outside and also in the slot. NFL QBs won't avoid throwing in his area like they did in college.

How he could fit Lions: Coverage and run defense show versatility.

Sleeper: Damon Arnette, Ohio State.

6-0, 195. 4.56 Combine 40.

Stats: 5 years, 2015 redshirt. 53 games, 38 starts. 5 career interceptions.

Background: Arnette made a wise choice in returning in 2019 after considering entering the 2019 draft. Arnette held up well playing opposite Okudah and finished strong. Five of his eight 2019 season breakups coming in the last four games when the Buckeyes faced Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Clemson.

How he could fit Lions: The Ohio State pedigree cannot be overlooked. In the last six drafts (2014-19), 10 Ohio State defensive backs have been drafted – seven cornerbacks, three safeties. Five seasons in the Ohio State program should have Arnette ready to contribute as a development prospect.

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