After finishing the 2020 season with a 5-11 record, the Detroit Lions have made several changes. They hired Dan Campbell as their new head coach and Brad Holmes as their new general manager. In the offseason, they traded Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three draft picks. Then, the Lions decided against placing the franchise tag on star wide receiver Kenny Golladay, allowing him to sign with the New York Giants in free agency. The Lions face a long rebuilding process but currently have only six picks in the 2021 NFL Draft this year. As they look towards the future, expect the Lions to be active in trade conversations during the draft.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 7: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Expect the Lions to be active on draft day. They only have six picks currently, and according to rumors, want to add a third first-round pick next year. However, in this mock draft, there are no trades. Assuming the Lions stay at pick seven, selecting a quarterback isn’t out of the question but not the favorite either. Instead, the Lions start rebuilding their wide receiver room. After losing Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency, the Lions signed Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman to one-year deals. However, neither is part of the Lions’ long-term plans. Meanwhile, Smith had a record season at Alabama in 2020. Despite the weight concerns, Smith would make an excellent No. 1 wide receiver for the Lions.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 23, 2021
For more on Smith, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 2, Pick 41: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
While the Lions have plenty of holes on defense, the offensive line needs some work as well. Taylor Decker has the left tackle spot locked down, but the future at right tackle spot is unclear. A year ago, the Lions signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year contract. However, he struggled in his first season in Detroit, was benched, and has an easy out in his contract after the 2021 season. While Tyrell Crosby can play right tackle, he is entering a contract year and could also move inside to guard. Meanwhile, Radunz made 32 consecutive starts at left tackle to close out his career at North Dakota State. He has gotten some first-round buzz lately, and he would be a steal for the Lions with this pick.
For more on Radunz, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 3, Pick 72: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
When rebuilding, you should draft players with the most upside in the middle round. Other than Micah Parsons and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Surratt has arguably the most upside of any linebacker in the draft. Surratt has played linebacker for only two seasons and is still learning the position after being recruited by North Carolina as a quarterback. However, in those two seasons, Surratt had 207 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, and four turnovers. Furthermore, in his first season at linebacker in 2019, Surratt finished second in the ACC with 115 total tackles. If Surratt hits his ceiling, the Lions will have landed the steal of the draft.
What a 2019 season it was for Chazz Surratt.
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) February 7, 2020
Round 3, Pick 101: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
As the Lions rebuild their secondary, they released starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman. While the Lions value 2020 first-round pick Jeff Okudah and 2019 fifth-round pick Amani Oruwariye, the depth behind them is thin. Furthermore, in a division full of elite wide receivers like Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Allen Robinson, the Lions can’t have too many good cornerbacks. During the 2019 season at Ohio State, Wade had success playing in the slot with Okudah on the outside. Last season, Ohio State moved him to an outside cornerback role and struggled. With Coleman’s release, the Lions lack a true slot cornerback on the roster, and Wade could step in as a rookie and fill that role with success.
Round 4, Pick 112: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
The Lions traded next to nothing for Michael Brockers after the Rams needed to move him in a salary cap dump move. However, that doesn’t solve their defensive tackle issues. 2020 sixth-round pick John Penisini started 12 games as a rookie but only had 35 tackles and one sack. Meanwhile, Wilson almost declared for the 2020 NFL Draft after his breakout 2019 season with 8.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks. However, he struggled with injuries his senior year, and his draft stock suffered because of it. If Detroit gets the 2019 version of Wilson, they will have found themselves a 10-year starter in the middle rounds.
300 lb Marvin Wilson vs 360 lb Deonte Brown pic.twitter.com/3T4wfGl9eD
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 27, 2021
Round 5, Pick 153: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
Many believe Goff got thrown into the trade with the Rams for salary cap purposes; however, the Lions wanted him. Detroit may not think Goff is a franchise quarterback, but he gives them an excellent bridge gap option till they find their franchise guy. Furthermore, after restructuring Goff’s contract to create cap space, the Lions are committed to him through the 2022 season. However, while the Lions are locked into Goff for the next two seasons because of his contract, that shouldn’t stop them from using a day three pick on a developmental quarterback. Mills didn’t put up the flashiest numbers at Stanford, throwing 18 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 14 career games. However, he has the raw tools to potentially develop into a starting quarterback.
For more on Mills, check out our scouting report on him here.