As the clock ticks until the Cincinnati Bengals are on the clock for the 2020 NFL Draft, rumors are moving around mock drafts and changes in the betting markets are in overdrive.
We’ll all find out how it goes down at 8 p.m. Thursday for the all-virtual affair, but the early word is things could move around a bunch from now until the Detroit Lions are on the clock.
The Lions have been mostly linked to Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah at No. 3 with the possibility of trading down always at least faintly in the background.
Those trade scenarios appear to be picking up steam.
Will teams trade up with Lions for a quarterback?
Maybe you’ve heard: The quarterback position is vital for success in the National Football League.
So when teams land a top-10 pick, they often are in need of a big swing at the position to secure the all-important “Quarterback of the Future.”
The Lions, with Matthew Stafford under center, are set in the short-term and maybe even in the medium-term with the 32-year-old former No. 1 pick.
However, there are teams like the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 who have their own unanswered quarterback questions.
In addition, there’s a familiar trading partner of Detroit general manager Bob Quinn out there, as his former employer in New England is at No. 23 with only Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as starting candidates on the roster.
Teams not shy about drafting quarterbacks early
It usually doesn’t pan out, but teams haven’t been shy about drafting quarterbacks at the top of the NFL Draft.
In the 10 drafts since 2010, 20 quarterbacks have gone in the top 10, a rate of two per season. Thirteen of those were picked in the top three. In the six years that a quarterback has went No. 1 in that span, four times a second signal caller was picked at No. 2 or No. 3.
With LSU quarterback Joe Burrow all but assured for the top spot on Thursday night, perhaps Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert of Oregon climbs all the way near the top of the draft list.
Oddsmakers bullish on quarterbacks moving up in NFL Draft
Tagovailoa in particular has been a heavy focus of this draft season.
Chris Sheridan of The Lines reported Tagovailoa’s drafting team was the most popular bet on FanDuel Sportsbook with 53% of action on Miami.
After listing Tagovailoa with +450 odds to go No. 3 on Wednesday, FanDuel has moved those odds to +240 on Thursday afternoon.
DraftKings Sportsbook had Tagovailoa at +400 to go third on Wednesday. He was +300 on Thursday afternoon.
Herbert’s market to go third overall actually fell from +450 to +500 in that span on FanDuel. On DraftKings, he went the other direction, moving from +500 to +400.
Rumors abound surrounding Lions at No. 3
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has been bullish about trade chances for Thursday night.
He wrote on early Thursday morning that the Lions “have made plans to actually draft at either No. 4 or No. 5 overall” and they “have a degree of confidence they will be able to trade their pick to either the New York Giants or Miami Dolphins at some point either before the draft or while they’re on the clock.”
The local experts still all think the Lions are going to ultimately end up with Okudah.
But some, such as Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, are growing comfortable with predictions of the Lions making a move.
Rogers has the Lions trading with Miami to No. 5 to take Okudah, also netting pick No. 39. In his mock draft, Rogers has the Dolphins roll the dice with Tagovailoa.
Peter Schrager of NFL.com predicts that exact trade taking place, though he has the Dolphins drafting Herbert instead.
Mel Kiper switches to Derrick Brown for Lions pick
Like nearly everyone else, iconic ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has had the Lions taking Okudah in most of his mock drafts, including his 4.0 version from April 14.
But the dapper one pulled a switch on Thursday morning, mocking Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown to the Lions in his final 5.0 version.
Even so, Kiper still maintains Lions’ fans should be on trade watch:
Detroit needs to go defense here — cornerback Jeff Okudah also makes sense — and Brown fills a huge hole in the middle of this front seven. Plus, he’s more than just a run-plugger. This is a spot to watch for a trade.
Ultimately, it’s widely believed that the Lions would like to bolster their defense Thursday and adding more picks is always nice. It’s a safe bet to assume the Lions end up with either Okudah, Brown or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons someway, somehow.
Clock ticking toward 2020 NFL Draft
No matter what happens Thursday night, you can be sure the rating will be huge.
Americans are starved for live sports and the NFL Draft gives fans the type of normalcy they crave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even the casinos are getting in on the act. Detroit’s Greektown Casino-Hotel posted a Twitter poll about the Lions draft on Thursday afternoon.
Who do you think the Detroit Lions will select in the #NFLDraft tonight?
— Greektown Casino (@GreektownCasino) April 23, 2020
By the way, as of early Thursday afternoon, 57 twitter users had weighed in with 47.4% predicting the Lions would take Okudah.