Detroit Lions load up on defense in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft

SideLion Report

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has a new two-round mock, and the Detroit Lions load up on defense.

Two teams have ever spent a top-three overall draft pick on a cornerback, and the Detroit Lions did it in 2020 by taking Jeff Okudah third overall. That was obviously the previous regime, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required) has them doing it again this year in his new two-round mock draft.

“Can I interest you in a 6-foot-3 corner with long arms and 4.41 40-yard dash speed who didn’t allow a single touchdown in coverage in college? That’s Gardner,” Kiper writes. “The Lions have several needs and would likely jump at Aidan Hutchinson if he somehow fell here.

Kiper gave the Lions Cincinnati cornerback (and Detroit native) Ahmad Gardner at No. 2 overall.

As noted by MLive’s Kyle Meinke, one team has used multiple first-round picks on defensive backs in almost the past 50 years. In 1976, the New England Patriots took cornerback Mike Haynes fifth overall and safety Tim Fox 21st overall. Haynes was a nine-time Pro Bowler and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Mel Kiper keeps loading up Detroit Lions defense in two-round mock

Kiper has the Lions taking a second first-round defensive back in his mock, with Georgia safety Lewis Cine at No. 32.

“Cine is the fifth Georgia defender in the top 32 picks here. He’s a good cover safety who is rising after he ran a 4.37 40 at the combine.”

With the No. 34 pick, Kiper gives the Lions a former University of Michigan pass rusher–David Ojabo.

“Ojabo is my top-ranked outside linebacker, even after he tore his Achilles last month and could miss most of the season,” Kiper said. “If the Lions are thinking long term, they could get a steal with a high-ceiling edge rusher.”

Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles’ at Michigan’s Pro Day, with a video that went viral showing how indifferent everyone was to the fact he had just suffered a major injury. A fast recovery from such an injury has been shown to be possible, but he could be headed for a full redshirt year with an eye on being all the way back in 2023.

The Lions of course ignored wide receiver in Kiper’s run of their first three picks, which many will lament. But the defense needs help, immediate (Gardner, Cine) as well as down the road if that’s what it comes too (Ojabo), so this is not a bad overall path even if the Gardner pick is pretty aggressive.

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