Matt Patricia's Lions Need To Hit A Home Run In The First Round, And It Starts With Trading The Pick

Logan Lockhart
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Monday, April 20, 2020

The Intrigue In The 2020 NFL Draft Starts With The Third Pick, Putting The Pressure On The Lions

Much like the 2019 NFL Draft, the intrigue in this year’s installment will begin at pick number three, which means the pressure is on for Matt Patrcia’s Lions.


Detroit traded CB Darius Slay to Philadelphia in March, and ranked fourth-worst for pass defence in the league according to Football Outsiders a year ago, making its secondary a priority on draft day.


With the third overall pick, the Lions have endless options--draft the best player available, select a defensive back, or trade down. 


“I definitely think it’s in their best interest to move it (the pick),” said Tyler Mulligan from Fantasy Six Pack on BarnBurner Network’s NFL Blitz on Wednesday. “Get more value out of the pick because either way it looks as though they’re going to go with Jeff Okudah.”


The Ohio State CB Okudah has skyrocketed on draft boards around the nation from analysts and insiders alike over the last month. 


But is it impossible to ignore the motives of the two teams below the Lions picking at five and six overall respectively--the Dolphins and the Chargers. Both franchises are almost guaranteed to target a quarterback with their early first-round picks, giving the Lions leverage in what they can do with the third selection.


“If the Chargers were to do it (trade up to three), they’d probably have to trade their sixth overall, 37th overall, as well as a future first-round pick,” said Mulligan. 


It is fair to place that kind of value on a third overall pick, making it a haul that the Lions should not refuse if offered to by either Miami or Los Angeles.  


Is Okudah a can’t miss prospect? Maybe.


But is he a cornerback that separates himself so much from other prospects at his position in the 2020 NFL Draft? No.


Clemson’s A.J Terrell and Florida’s C.J Henderson aren’t necessarily a whole tier below Okudah for cornerback talent in this year’s class. 


For Detroit to take Okudah at three would be a stretch, and a missed opportunity to add assets and value to the roster. The Lions would be better served on taking Okudah at five or six, depending on which team wants to swap picks. This scenario also assumes the Giants wouldn’t select the Buckeye with their fourth overall selection. 


In recent draft history, selecting a defensive back in the top five has been a gamble, based on the quantity available from the position later in the first round. 


Fifth overall pick in 2016, Jalen Ramsey, proved to be evaluated and selected at the appropriate time, and credit to Jacksonville for doing so. But in other cases, the selection of a defensive back so early in the first round have been questionable based on the talent could have been taken much later in the round at that position. 


“Denziel Ward was the fourth pick in the draft (by Cleveland in 2018), but I think if you talk to anyone in football right now they’d tell you (18th pick of the draft by Green Bay) Jaire Alexander is better,” said Chris Simms on Chris Simms Unbuttoned on NBC Sports on April 14.


In 2020, the Lions must trust their evaluations on the cornerbacks available, and not spend a premium pick on a player that can be taken much later. 


Trading down from third overall is in the best interest for Detroit. For improving the roster right now and adding significant value for the future, it should be a no brainer.