NFL Draft 2020: Where Jeff Okudah, Defensive Stars Are Going in Expert Mocks

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIMarch 29, 2020

Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah plays against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Ohio State's defense was the best in college football last season, allowing only 259.7 yards per game. Part of the reason for that was the plethora of standouts the Buckeyes had on that side of the ball.

Some of those players are preparing to move on to play at the NFL level. And two former Ohio State defenders, defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah, could be selected within the first three picks of this year's draft.

Here's where the top three defensive players in this year's draft class, including Young and Okudah, are being projected to go in recent mocks.

                                 

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The most likely scenario is that Young will be selected by the Washington Redskins with the No. 2 pick. That's what ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. is predicting will happen, as Washington takes the best available player and adds a top pass-rusher to its defense.

Although the Redskins have a lot of holes on their roster, their defensive front is solid, and it would get even better with Young's addition. In Washington, Young would also reunite with former Ohio State teammates in quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

There's also a chance the Redskins could go a different route by opting to draft Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at No. 2. If that happens, Young likely won't have to wait much longer to be selected. NFL Media's Chad Reuter is projecting him to get drafted by the Detroit Lions at No. 3 in that scenario.

Reuter pointed out that Detroit could field trade offers for that pick, and there's a strong chance that would be for a team to select Young, should he not get drafted by Washington. It's highly unlikely that Young falls lower than No. 3; he's the clear best defensive player in this year's class.

                          

Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Another former Buckeyes defender will come off the board shortly after Young, with Okudah also projected by many to be a top pick in this year's draft.

Kiper and NFL Media's Charley Casserly both have Okudah getting drafted by the Lions at No. 3. That move makes a lot of sense for Detroit, which traded cornerback Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason. Okudah should provide an immediate boost to the Lions' secondary.

But if Tagovailoa goes to Washington at No. 2 and Young to Detroit at No. 3, that could lead to Okudah having a short wait before getting drafted. Reuter has Okudah falling to No. 7, where he would be drafted by Carolina. The Panthers lost cornerback James Bradberry during free agency, so it would make sense that they would draft Okudah if he were available at the time of their top selection.

All three referenced mocks have Okudah being the first defensive back selected, solidifying the notion he's the best one available in this class.

                          

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Richard Shiro/Associated Press

Isaiah Simmons is one of the most talented all-around players entering the NFL this year, as he showcased countless skills during his time at Clemson. Then he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, further improving his draft stock.

Kiper is one of the draft analysts highest on Simmons, as he has the former Tigers linebacker going to the New York Giants at No. 4. New York signed free-agent linebacker Blake Martinez this offseason, so adding Simmons would make that group even stronger heading into 2020.

Casserly has Simmons going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 9, while Reuter is predicting the Atlanta Falcons trade up to No. 11 to draft him. Both teams could use defensive boosts, and Simmons is so talented that he could also help out in the secondary if needed.

It's likely that Simmons will be a top-10 pick and make a quick impact in the NFL for whichever team drafts him.

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