| The Detroit News
For the third consecutive year, the Detroit Lions are on track to have a top-10 draft pick at season’s end.
Following the conclusion of Sunday’s games, the Lions hold the No. 7 slot in the 2021 draft thanks to a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker with the three other teams that share a 5-10 record. The worse a team’s strength of schedule, the better its draft slot.
Technically, the Lions could climb as high as No. 3 in the draft order next week, but that scenario is nearly impossible. In addition to losing their season finale to the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions also would need the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles to win their Week 17 matchups.
All four of those teams are playing against opponents with playoff ramifications, and only Philadelphia, facing a 6-9 Washington team, would appear to have a realistic shot.
The alternative, a victory over the Vikings, would likely see the Lions drafting outside the top 10 come April. They could fall back as far as 13th in the order with the win.
At pick No. 7 or higher, the Lions could have the option of taking a high-caliber prospect such as Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, one of the class’ top receivers, or even a quarterback such as BYU’s Zach Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
In the past two drafts, the Lions selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson (No. 8 in 2018) and Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah (No. 3 in 2019). Hockenson earned a Pro Bowl nod in his second season, while Okudah battled multiple injuries and landed on injured reserve after appearing in nine games his debut campaign.
The last time the Lions drafted inside the top-10 three or more consecutive years was a six-year stretch between 2002-07 when the team selected quarterback Joey Harrington, linebacker Ernie Sims and wide receivers Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Calvin Johnson.