Detroit Lions land 'under the radar' cornerback in new Mel Kiper mock draft

It's easy to match the Lions with a cornerback in a mock draft this year, but ESPN's Mel Kiper has gone a fresher direction with that in his latest mock.

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Look at a set of mock drafts, and you'll see one position tied to the Detroit Lions more than any other. Unsurprisingly, it's cornerback. Maybe it's Missouri's Ennis Rakestraw. Or Alabama's Kool-Aid McKinstry. Or Georgia's Kamari Lassiter. Or Clemson's Nate Wiggins. Maybe Iowa's Cooper DeJean.

Cornerback is the biggest need the Lions have this offseason. Brad Holmes has warned us all about using mock drafts to fill needs, but it would be surprising if the Lions don't draft at least one in late-April. Maybe it's not in the first round with the 29th overall pick, but a young corner should be added to the mix.

Iowa State's T.J. Tampa has occasionally eked into the first round of mock drafts, but he's generally considered a second-round prospect in a very deep draft class at cornerback.

In his Mock Draft 2.0 for 2024, in concert with NFL Combine week, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Lions taking Tampa at pick No. 29.

Detroit Lions land 'under the radar' cornerback in new Mel Kiper mock

Here's what Kiper wrote about Tampa.

"Here's a corner who might be going a little under the radar," writes Kiper. "Tampa can start for a team from day one. 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."

Over his last two seasons at Iowa State, Tampa had 84 total tackles and 16 pass breakups. He has good size (6-foot-2, 198-200 pounds), and the all-around ability to step right into an NFL secondary and be a factor.

H/T to Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit for finding the reel of clips on Twitter shown below.

That kind of stuff being what it's worth (very little, in terms of actually football-playing ability), it will be interesting to see Tampa run the 40-yard dash, etc. at the combine when defensive backs do on-field work Friday afternoon.


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