The Detroit Lions passing offense will look much different in 2021, not only due to Jared Goff, but who he is throwing to as well.
The Lions receiving corps is a glaring weakness headed into the offseason with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola all potential free agents. While Golladay is a candidate for the franchise tag, no moves have been made aside from signing Tyrell Williams. Thankfully, the upcoming draft class is loaded with pass catchers, and the Lions might opt to address that position early—and perhaps often.
Early-round talent is superb this year, and the depth is equally impressive. The consensus top wide receivers are Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith, and each of them are in contention to be the first wideout chosen. Smith is the Heisman winner with an absurd 23 touchdown catches in 2020 alone. Waddle is a big play threat that unfortunately missed time with an ankle injury. Chase sat out the 2020 season, but an outstanding 2019 campaign sets him up as a potential star in the NFL.
The prospects after those three are not to be overlooked either. The likes of Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney, and Rondale Moore could easily sneak into the first round. With passing attacks growing every year, having a wide arsenal of targets is never a poor option. Prospects on Day 2 and Day 3 show potential as well, although specific roles and patience are likely required. Terrace Marshall has the physical traits of a starting wideout. D’Wayne Eskridge is a speedy slot option. Jaelon Darden was one of the most dynamic weapons in college football. If you need a wide receiver, the 2021 draft class has plenty to offer.
One name that I have yet to mention is not technically a wide receiver. However, he boasts one of the best profiles in the draft, and is in the argument for top pass catcher in the draft. That honor belongs to tight end Kyle Pitts. Very rarely do tight ends go in the top ten of the draft—Lions fans know this well. Whereas T.J. Hockenson is a more traditional tight end in the sense that he is big and can block, Pitts is closer to Mike Evans or Darren Waller, who was a wide receiver in college. The team that drafts him will do so because of his receiving abilities, and any blocking abilities will be a bonus. A matchup nightmare for many corners, linebackers, and safeties, Pitts projects as an all-around weapon for any offense.
With so many exciting prospects, the 2021 draft will be worth watching.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Who is your favorite receiving prospect in the draft?
My answer: As you might have guessed from that previous paragraph, I love Kyle Pitts. The idea of drafting another tight end in the top ten would normally make my eyes roll, but he and T.J. Hockenson would have minimal overlap. I, among many, view Pitts as a receiver that can block, opposed to a tight end that can catch. The label of tight end or wide receiver does not matter if you have the right scheme in place, and Pitts can do plenty of damage. As we know from many years of Calvin Johnson, having a pass catcher with size and speed is a great asset to have.
Pitts might be the rare case where a tight end goes in the top five, and you could justify it. While Trevor Lawrence is practically penciled in a number one overall, Pitts could go soon after. The Jets might opt to keep Sam Darnold—and opt out of a blockbuster Deshaun Watson trade—and select Pitts. The Dolphins and Bengals could each use a top-tier pass catcher for their young quarterbacks. The Eagles could snag Pitts at sixth overall, one spot ahead of the Lions.
Regardless of where Pitts is drafted, I am excited to see how he performs in the NFL. Talented players like him are always a welcome sight on Sundays.