With no NFL Combine in 2021, late February has become a bit of a dead news period for the league. And with free agency still a few weeks away, lots of writers have turned their attention to mock drafts—including six of the Lions beat writers.
Mock drafts in general shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but they can be used as a way for fans to familiarize themselves with some of the top players in this year’s draft class.
As we head towards the draft in late April, we will use mock draft round up articles to examine mock drafts from the week prior, discuss players, and identify patterns in how players are being connected to the Detroit Lions.
So far this offseason a few patterns have emerged. After the Lions season ended and the emptiness of their wide receiver depth chart was revealed, most mock drafts matched the Lions with one of the top-3 receivers available. When Matthew Stafford requested a trade, almost every mock draft shifted to strictly signal-callers. But now that the dust has settled on the Stafford for Jared Goff trade, prognosticators have begun to open their pairing back up and a variety of players are in play for Detroit.
Let’s take a look at the projections from this past week.
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Birkett: “Zach Wilson is a more polished prospect and will go ahead of (Trey) Lance. Justin Fields likely will, too. But when it comes to ceiling, when it comes to being the type of player you draft and look back at 15 years later and think how lucky you were, Lance is second only to Lawrence in his dreamy potential.”
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Wilson: “It would be a surprise if Detroit allowed Kenny Golladay to walk this offseason. However, even if he returns, the team needs to add others at the position. Ja’Marr Chase is still the best wide receiver in this draft and the Lions have the opportunity to pick him. Jared Goff begins his career in the NFC North with T.J. Hockenson, Kenny Golladay, Ja’Marr Chase and D’Andre Swift.”
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Raven: “The choice between DeVonta Smith and Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle was more agonizing than expected. Smith enters the draft after turning in one of the most productive seasons ever for a college receiver. The Heisman winner caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He torched Ohio State to the tune of 12 catches for 215 yards and three scores in two quarters in the CFP championship.”
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Davis: “With new coach Dan Campbell admittedly looking beyond 2021 and maybe even 2022 as this team resets, it could make sense to be in “best player available mode” as opposed to immediately enlisting a successor for Goff. And a fair evaluation of the QB would entail having a No. 1 target on board – Waddle seems better suited to that role than slightly built Crimson Tide teammate DeVonta Smith – and Detroit could desperately need help with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones unsigned.”
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Currently being mocked by Chris Burke and Nick Baumgardner (The Athletic)
It’s worth noting that Burke and Baumgardner are using a mock draft machine in this exercise and admitted Sewell falling to pick No. 7 would be surprising, but with him on the board…
Baumgardner: “Sewell feels like a potentially generational offensive line prospect who can potentially wear many hats. Knowing Campbell and Anthony Lynn’s desire to kick-start the run game, this would make sense. And it’d feel like a steal, if I’m honest, with how talented he is.”
Azeez Ojulari, JACK, Georgia
Currently being mocked by Chris Trapasso (CBS Sports)
Trapasso: “This is the highest you’ll probably see Ojulari. But I really believe he’s the super-explosive, bendy type of edge rusher who typically flies up boards during the pre-draft process.”
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Currently being mocked by Mike O’Hara (DetroitLions.com), Mel Kiper (ESPN), Charlie Casserly (NFL.com), Brian Johannes (The Huddle Report), Anthony Treash (Pro Football Focus), Ben Rolfe (Pro Football Network)
O’Hara: “Linebacker was the Lions’ weakest position in 2020, and Parsons is a top 10 prospect with dynamic ability.”
It’s worth noting that Parsons is largely considered the best defensive player in this draft class and it’s why O’Hara, Casserly, Treash, and Rolfe had the Lions grabbing him at No. 7. But not everyone is sold on him as evidenced by Kiper and Johannes had the Lions trading down to 12 and 20 respectively as still being able to select him.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Currently being mocked by Doug Farrar (Touchdown Wire)
Farrar: “You may also notice that I have a “linebacker” — Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — taken with the seventh overall pick. That may seem like an overdraft if you haven’t watched Owusu-Koramoah’s tape and you just go by the linebacker designation. After all, NFL teams played more dime than base in 2020, per Sports Info Solutions. But as was the case for Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons in 2020, Owusu-Koramoah transcends any positional designation. He is the very model of the modern versatile defender. Simmons was taken eighth overall by the Cardinals, and I think Owusu-Koramoah could be similarly coveted.”