There are some positions in the NFL Draft we see year after year that hold more value than others, with quarterbacks, pass rushers and offensive tackles typically valued the highest. That certainly seems to be the case this year as well, with most draft analysts expecting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to go No. 1 overall to Cincinnati and Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young No. 2 to Washington.
Detroit holds the No. 3 pick, and there's a very real possibility Lions general manager Bob Quinn gets some calls to move back as teams want to come up and select a quarterback, pass rusher or tackle at No. 3. Quinn said in a conference call Friday that he and his staff are preparing for all scenarios – trading back or making the pick at No. 3 – and hope to have a good idea of what they'll do Thursday afternoon ahead of the start of the first round that evening.
One of the players who's been frequently mocked to the Lions is Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, but cornerbacks, unlike quarterbacks, pass rushers or offensive tackles, typically don't hold as much value at the top of the draft for whatever reason. Over the past 10 drafts, there have been three cornerbacks taken in the top five picks – Patrick Peterson (5th; 2011), Jalen Ramsey (5th; 2016) and Denzel Ward (4th; 2018). During that same span, there have been 13 quarterbacks, nine edge rushers and seven offensive tackles taken in the first five picks.
"I'm not sure why teams have shied away," Quinn said in a conference call Friday of drafting a cornerback high. "Honestly, I don't. I think it's obviously critical and has high value in the league. Really, when you look at corners, basically you have three corners that are starters in professional football now."
Last year in free agency, the Lions signed nickel cornerback Justin Coleman to a four-year deal that averages around $9 million per season. Most NFL teams are in sub-package nickel defense (five defensive backs) about 80 percent of the time.
"We paid (Coleman) like a starter because we feel like you need three starting level corners to have a productive defense," Quinn said. "So, why teams have shied away, I can't really answer that. You have to ask the teams that have passed. I've never been this high in the draft to experience that."
The Lions signed veteran cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Darryl Roberts in free agency, and return Coleman and second-year corner Amani Oruwariye, among others, but Detroit could certainly look to bolster those numbers in the draft, maybe even as high as No. 3 with Okudah, if he ends up being tops on their draft board when their time on the clock begins.
"In terms of the corner position, I think there's a number of players this year that are really, really high-quality corners," Quinn said. "I think it's a deep class. I think it's a deep class that you can get great value later on in the draft, too, for guys that can come in and contribute right away.
"So, it's something that is not unique to take one in the top five, it's just got to make sense for your club."