Detroit Lions Mock Draft: Mel Kuiper Mock Draft Reaction To Detroit Lions Selection

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Detroit Lions mock draft: Mel Kuiper mock draft

But when it comes to pairing the Lions with a cornerback, most draft analysts have converged on the same names: Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw, Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter, and even Iowa’s Cooper DeJean.

But in the latest mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, he slotted a far less common cornerback to the Lions: Iowa State’s T.J. Tampa.

The massive 6-foot-2, 198 pound cornerback has much more commonly been identified as a second-round prospect, but Tampa certainly has some appealing traits outside of his size.
For one, he isn’t afraid to lay the boom—a characteristic that will certainly endear himself to the Lions.

Additionally, he shows good instincts and closing speed in both man and zone coverage.

“Tampa can start for a team from day one,” Kiper wrote. “He played nearly 900 coverage snaps for the Cyclones, and he saw every route. After giving up four touchdown passes as the nearest defender in coverage in 2021, he allowed only three in the next two seasons. He made a massive improvement in 2023. Although Tampa had only three interceptions in college, I think he could be more productive in the NFL.”

Experience and production are just pieces of the scouting puzzle, but Tampa has them both. In the past two years alone, he has 84 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups.

And while Tampa was never named captain, he took on a leadership role in 2023, and certainly seems like he would fit Detroit’s strict “football character” requirements. Take this snippet from Iowa State Daily’s profile on Tampa:

Tampa brings players together to watch film and improve. Tampa also got receivers and defensive backs together on occasion during the offseason to continuously work on everyone’s crafts.
If you want to learn more about the other cornerbacks in this year’s NFL Draft, check out Schlitt’s 10 cornerbacks to watch at the NFL Combine.

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