Allen Park — Much as it might feel like Christmas displays are being put out at department stores earlier and earlier each year, the same can be said for NFL mock drafts.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Toddy McShay released his first projection of next April's draft (pay site) and he has the Lions addressing the team's secondary with the No. 5 selection, snagging Ohio State's Jeffrey Okudah.
"It's time for the Lions to take their first Day 1 cornerback since Terry Fair in 1998," McShay writes. "The big and athletic Okudah has all the tools to be a No. 1 corner in the NFL and would be the sixth Buckeyes defensive back in the past five years to go in Round 1."
Okudah entered his junior season with lofty expectations and exceeded them, recording the first three interceptions of his college career, while allowing fewer than half of the balls thrown his direction to be completed.
The Lions have a complex situation at cornerback entering the offseason with Darius Slay's future with the franchise in question. Although he remains under contract for the 2020 season, he's been seeking a new deal and has also been one of the few in the locker room who has shown a willingness to question the direction of the franchise.
And even if Slay sticks in Detroit, the job opposite him is anything but secure. The team's 2019 starter, Rashaan Melvin, is operating on a one-year deal and was never expected to be anything more than a stopgap solution. There's also 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye, who has shown some promise, but is far from a sure thing.
While far from just the fault of the the cornerbacks, the Lions have struggled to defend the pass this season, allowing opponents to have a 102.5 passer rating against. Only Oakland and Arizona have been worse. Additionally, the Lions are tied for last in the NFL with six interceptions.