To kick off Draft Week, we’re doing it big. Most sites are probably offering a mock draft or two. Not us. We’re overachievers.
The Pride of Detroit staff has combined forces to create a dueling mock draft. But not just a pair of mocks. Not three, either. Nor four or five.
Six of us worked up a seven-round mock for the Detroit Lions for you to digest… and it’s just Monday. There’s plenty more to come.
For this exercise, the Pride of Detroit staff used The Draft Network’s mock draft utility with only one trade allowed. The big board used for the AI to operate from was TDN’s Predictive Board, which is their in-house default board to use.
Andrew Kato: It’s going to look like I cribbed my entire draft from Erik Schlitt’s POD Community Mock Draft, but I apologize for nothing. Obviously, as part of Team Trade Down, the way I was going to use my one allotted trade was to peddle the seventh overall pick for more choices. The one offering the most quantity was the New England Patriots, who wanted to give me a first, second, and third-round pick. Instead of accepting outright, a counterproposal switching out the third-rounder for two of their fourth-round picks instead (more is more). The bad part of the trade is that Sewell, Slater, and Waddle were all still on the board thanks to a mad quarterback run (all four gone plus Pitts and Chase). Effectively, this was giving up a premier tackle for bodies. The Patriots took Waddle, and we got picks 15, 46, 120, and 122.
When you look at what we got from the trade for the seventh pick, there’s a ton of value. At 15, we got the other Alabama wide receiver. At 41, we just missed out on Cosmi, Paye, and Browning, but somehow Ojulari was still on the board. At 46? Erik Schlitt’s second-round selection Dickerson was there and was the best available. In the third round at 72, Erik’s pick Jamar Johnson was available and also the best available, so that was easy. The fourth and fifth-round picks we got from the Patriots combined with the Lions’ original fourth-rounder filled out a bunch of roster holes: linebacker Moses, nose tackle Shelvin, power back Hill, and two potential slot corners in Wade and Thomas. Getting Johnson and Thomas gives the defensive staff options with Wade, making him useful as a future safety or nickel.
- Round 1 (15) — WR Devonta Smith (from trade)
- Round 2 (41) — EDGE Azeez Ojulari
- Round 2 (46) — G/C Landon Dickerson (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — S Jamar Johnson
- Round 3 (101) — NT Tyler Shelvin
- Round 4 (112) — LB Dylan Moses
- Round 4 (120) — RB Kylin Hill (from trade)
- Round 4 (122) — CB/S Shaun Wade (from trade)
- Round 5 (153) — CB Ambry Thomas
John Whiticar: My goal for this draft was to maximize the potential value of the seventh overall pick. The early board did not fall my way, as the top four quarterbacks of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields went 1-2-3-4. However, I still received some trade offers. The Panthers offered pick No. 8, a third-round pick (73) and a fifth (151) for 7, and our third (101). The Broncos had a similar deal, offering pick 9, a third (71), and a fourth (114) for 7 and our third.
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, I think Denver trading up would be unlikely, but I viewed this as the best option going forward. I was able to counter their trade. The accepted trade involved the Lions giving up pick 7 and 101, but in return, we got picks 9 and 71 and the Broncos’ 2022 first-round pick. This is a perfect scenario in my books. Not only do the Lions only fall a few spots in the first, leaving them in a prime position for a blue-chip prospect, they move up in the third while also securing the Broncos top pick next year. The Broncos think they are a team a quarterback away from competing, and having missed out on Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, and Fields, I think that could be a very early draft pick. The Broncos ended up selecting Mac Jones, and I hardly view that as an upgrade from Drew Lock.
On the board at ninth overall are Kyle Pitts, Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, and DeVonta Smith. This is an extremely tough decision to make, but Pitts wins by a slim margin. There have been plenty of “matchup nightmare” tight ends in drafts past, but the value of Pitts is too good to pass up. Even if he can’t develop into a wide receiver, he could still be an excellent tight end pair with T.J. Hockenson.
I ended up acquiring:
- Round 1 (9) — TE Kyle Pitts, Florida (from trade)
- Round 2 (41) — LB Jamin Davis, Kentucky
- Round 3 (71) — S Richie Grant, UCF (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
- Round 4 (112) — WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota St.
- Round 5 (153) — IDL Marvin Wilson, Florida St.
- Broncos 2022 1st (from trade)
I would be extremely excited about this draft class. Davis and Grant are two of my favorite prospects at linebacker and safety, respectively, and both could easily go a round earlier. Meliwonfu, brother of Raiders draft pick Obi, has some incredible potential, and I don’t think the Lions will be in any rush to start him. I was hoping for a nickel corner, but Asante Samuel Jr. went 54th overall and Elijah Molden went 70th overall. Cade Johnson tested poorly, but he is a player that excites me as a slot option in the NFL. He played very well at the Senior Bowl, and he could even contribute as a returner. Marvin Wilson is a bit of a gamble because his 2020 tape makes him look undraftable. However, his 2018 and 2019 tape was phenomenal, and he considered a possible first-round pick. He’s a powerful tackle that can contribute as a pass rusher and run defender. It would be up to the coaching staff to rediscover that ceiling. The 2022 first-round pick is just icing on the cake.
Erik Schlitt: GM Brad Holmes is going to want to maximize his “extremely valuable” No. 7 overall pick, and the way the board fell in my mock draft simulation allowed him to do just that. Quarterbacks went 1-2-3-4, then TE Kyle Pitts, WR Jaylen Waddle, and LB Micah Parsons leaving me with QB Mac Jones, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR DeVonta Smith, OT Penei Sewell, and OT Rashawn Slater as options.
I decided to explore trade options and offers from the Broncos (No. 9), Eagles (No. 12), and Patriots (No. 15) presented themselves. With only one trade allowed in POD’s competition and five solid options on the board, I opted to gamble a bit by trading with the Eagles in order to maximize my value while still staying within the blue-chip player range.
In the trade, the Eagles received No. 7, which they used to select Chase, and the Lions acquired picks No. 12, 70, 225, and the Eagles first-round pick in 2022.
Here are the players I acquired with the Lions’ selections:
- Round 1 (12) — OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern (from trade)
- Round 2 (41) — S Jevon Holland, Oregon
- Round 3 (70) — WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — IDL Milton Williams, LA Tech
- Round 3 (101) — CB Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas
- Round 4 (112) — LB Monty Rice, Georgia
- Round 5 (153) — WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee
- Round 6 (225) — Slot/RET Jaelon Darden, North Texas (from trade)
- Eagles first-round pick in 2022 (trade)
My gamble paid off with Slater—who may be the Lions preferred option at OT—sliding to 12, but he’s not the only instant starter I landed as Holland and Eskridge should also step into key roles. Williams is a developmental starter on the defensive line and could make a big impact as an interior pass rusher in his first year. Rochell is a ball-hawking CB who could develop into a starter inside or out and is at worst CB3 on the outside in 2022. Rice is custom fit for the Alex Anzalone role and could split the role in 2021 and take over for him in 2022. Palmer was a value pick in the fifth and provides depth on the outside with starter potential long term. I wasn’t planning on triple dipping at wide receiver, and instead was targeting a special teams starter in the sixth round, but with Darden, I was able to land both.
Mike Payton: If there’s one thing I’ve noticed from doing these mock drafts, it’s that things could get very dicey for Brad Holmes and company right away. If they were hoping for a pass catcher, Jaylen Waddle and Ja’Marr Chase were off the board by the time the Lions got to the podium. They are almost every time I run the simulator. It really scares you if you’re hoping for a pass catcher. Today the football gods allowed a victory for the Lions in a totally fictional way that will ultimately not pay off. Also, the Jags came through with a trade offer that allowed me to bump down a few picks in the second and pick up an extra fifth-rounder.
- Round 1 (7) — TE Kyle Pitts. Florida
- Round 2 (45) — IDL Christian Barmore, Alabama (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
- Round 3 (101) — CB Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky
- Round 4 (112) — EDGE Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State
- Round 5 (153) — OT Josh Ball, Marshall
- Round 5 (170) — LB Charles Snowden, Virginia (from trade)
Ultimately, I’m happy with the way things panned out here. Some fans are going to hate that I went with two pass catchers so early, but the Lions get two guys here that could form the Lions’ next great receiving corps. Kyle Pitts might be unstoppable and he can do much more than play tight end. I didn’t get Jaylen Waddle, but with Amari Rodgers, we get Diet Jaylen Waddle.
Barmore is a Day 1 starter on this line with Michael Brockers there to help him out. Rashed is going to be a project, but his speed and athleticism could help him rebound and get back to the player we thought he was in 2019. Kelvin Joseph and Charles Snowden feel like steals to me—especially Snowden. His remarkable size and wingspan for the position could make him special with the right coaching. Hey, Josh Ball is here, too.
Ryan Mathews: So I’ve got to admit, I’d be pretty optimistic about the Lions and the direction Brad Holmes is taking the team if pieces of the mock drafts from above were to happen. Kyle Pitts as the Lions’ first pick like in Mike and John’s mocks? Yes, please. Grabbing Slater at No. 12? Dynamite pick by Erik—and a great trade for future draft capital to boot. Andrew’s trade where the Lions net five picks in the top 101? Count me in.
For my draft, I took things in a much different direction. The board happened to shake loose the choice between Justin Fields and Trey Lance at No. 7, so trading out of that pick would produce some certainly attractive trade offers, but passing on a potential franchise quarterback is something you just can’t afford to do.
- Round 1 (7) — QB Justin Fields, Ohio St.
- Round 2 (51) — CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida St. (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — WR Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma St.
- Round 3 (74) — OT Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa (from trade)
- Round 3 (101) — S Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech
- Round 4 (124) — IOL Deonte Brown, Alabama (from trade)
- Round 5 (153) — WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee
On Day 2, I spent my one allotted trade and took the opportunity to drop back in the second and third round to add an additional third-round pick from Washington at 74. After moving back 10 spots to 51, the Lions add a player in Asante Samuel Jr. who fits and emboldens the youth movement in Detroit’s secondary. Samuel Jr.’s size prevents him from being discussed with the top corners in this class, but his athletic profile and ball-hawking skills make him an easy pick for a team that will be able to use him both outside and in the slot in year one.
Tylan Wallace is a bit small in stature for a wide receiver, but some of his best traits are those you typically associate with bigger receivers—and those traits show up on the stat sheet, too. Wallace led the FBS in contested catches over the past three seasons (43) per Pro Football Focus and he averaged over 100 yards receiving per game during his three years at Oklahoma State. Again, the Lions would add another player who will earn significant snaps in their rookie season—especially from the slot.
Spencer Brown is a project at offensive tackle, so he wouldn’t immediately figure to be the team’s starting right tackle, but as one of two players in the 2021 NFL Draft class who scored a 10 RAS, give me the athletic dude and let Hank Fraley work. Divine Deablo fits nicely not only as an early contender for the annual Pride of Detroit Name Bracket tournament but also as a safety comfortable playing quarters and capable of playing split zone. Detroit builds some depth along the interior adding Deonte Brown as a value pick and Josh Palmer at 153 is a no-brainer when he has the potential to be the team’s starting X receiver a year from now.
By now we’re well over 2,000 words in this article, so how about we just get to my picks:
- Round 1 (7) — OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
- Round 2 (55) — LB Nick Bolton, Missouri (from trade)
- Round 3 (72) — S Richie Grant, UCF
- Round 3 (87) — CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford (from trade)
- Round 3 (101) — WR Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell, Louisville
- Round 4 (112) — NT Alim McNeill, NC State
- Round 5 (153) — WR Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
- Steelers 2022 sixth-round pick
I wanted to put a little realism at the top of this draft. While I would love the Lions to trade down a couple of spots and pick up some extra draft resources, I don’t see the Panthers, Broncos, or Eagles getting impatient. Instead, I grabbed the top offensive tackle and added an extra Day 2 pick by trading back 14 spots in the second round instead. By doing that, I was able to load up on defensive talent. Bolton and Grant could be Day 1 starters, while Adebo will provide some extra competition in a young cornerback room.
Unfortunately, there always seemed to be a run of wide receivers prior to my first three picks, so that need had to wait. I wasn’t going to reach. Tutu Atwell at 101 is great value (not by weight), and he can battle it out in the slot with Cade Johnson. Add in a nose tackle, and I think I did a pretty good job getting value and serving most needs.
Below is a quick overview of the picks made by each POD staff member, and make sure to vote for which one you like the best:
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