For the second consecutive season, Lions general manager Bob Quinn will be picking in the top 10. Last year, he selected tight end T.J. Hockenson at No. 8. This year, Quinn has the No. 3 overall pick, and will have his choice of a number of elite prospects in this class.
"I think I said this a couple days ago that we're drafting at three so we have to look at everybody," Quinn said at the Combine. "We can't just concentrate on one or two positions, so we'll concentrate on all the positions. The best players in the draft, the best players in college football. Obviously, we've been watching them all year. We're going to evaluate all the positions."
Detroit's pick at No. 3 is also expected to be a prime candidate for teams to move up, potentially looking for a quarterback. This should give Quinn options. He can take the best player on his board at No. 3, or he could potentially move back, gain some additional draft capital, and still get a top notch player with the first pick. It will be interesting to see how it plays out starting April 23.
Here are five players who could be in the mix with Detroit's top pick:
1. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State, 6-5, 264
The consensus top player in this draft class, Young is a skilled and athletic pass rusher who broke the Ohio State single-season sack record in 2019 with 16.5. Some draft analysts think he's a better prospect coming into the league than former Buckeyes teammates Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa.
Young can rush from the defensive end spot and stand up as an outside linebacker. There are few holes in his game, and he'd match best player available with position of need for Detroit. If he's somehow still on the board at No. 3, he'd be really hard to pass up.
2. Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State, 6-1, 205
A really clean prospect, Okudah is the best cornerback available in the draft. There's a drop off to the second wave of players at the position. He's a man-cover corner who allowed a career passer rating of 55.7 over his three seasons at Ohio State and a completion percentage of just 43.2 when opposing passers threw his way.
He's got terrific size and speed, and fits how Detroit likes to play the cornerback position within their defense. Like Young, he could fit best player available at a position of need, especially if Young is off the board in the top two picks.
3. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn, 6-5, 326
The Lions have revamped the interior of their defensive line with the signings of Danny Shelton and Nick Williams in free agency, but they could still use more talent and depth at the position. That's where Brown steps in. He's the best defensive tackle in this class and a dominant player along the interior.
He has a rare combination of size, quickness and disruptive traits. He's quick enough to shoot gaps and get into the backfield, but really excels taking on double teams and preying on runners while two-gapping. He's a do-it-all defender from the interior.
4. Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson, 6-4, 238
The Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker, Simmons is a rare prospect athletically with position versatility. He had a terrific quote at the Combine when asked what position he plays. He responded with, "defense." There's really no arguing with that. He can play linebacker, safety and even rush the passer from the edge.
His 40 time of 4.39 was impressive for a player his size. He can match up in the slot and run with the league's talented tight ends. Simmons notched 104 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions and eight pass breakups last season. Talk about production.
5. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama, 6-0, 217
The Lions are committed to quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has three years left on his contract, so this move would be for the future. Before Tagovailoa's hip injury ended his 2019 season in Alabama, he was widely considered the top pick in the draft. His injury, coupled with LSU QB Joe Burrow's record-setting 2019 Heisman campaign, put Burrow as the favorite to go No. 1 to Cincinnati, but Tagovailoa is still an interesting prospect.
He's got all the talent in the world, but he also has a long track record of injuries. He would sit behind Stafford and be the quarterback of the future as a dual-threat player with a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of eight-to-one playing in the SEC. Not sure if this makes sense given Detroit's need to play competitive games in December, but in terms of level of talent to be considered a top three pick, Tagovailoa fits.