Here’s how it works. Using the mock draft machine from the good folks over at The Draft Network, I started a mock draft for the Lions. When Detroit was on the clock, I picked the four best options and presented them to the Lions fan base on Twitter via a poll. Fans then voted for the pick they wanted and I made their selection in the mock draft machine. I repeated this process for all of the Lions’ six draft picks—trades were not part of this simulation.
I did not vote in any of the polls or influence the picks by adding in any commentary. I only presented the best options available to the fans. That being said, I did want to share my point of view on how the mock draft went down, while also giving background on how the players would fit on the roster, as well as my thoughts about the selection.
1st round (7): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle went off the board in that order, which left the voting board looking like this:
- Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
- An offensive tackle (Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater)
- DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Landing an offensive tackle received 61.2 percent of the vote, and in a new poll, a vote-off between Sewell and Slater declared Sewell the winner with 84.7 percent of the vote.
At just 20 years old, Sewell will bookend Taylor Decker through the 2024 season, and maybe beyond. He’ll likely start at right tackle immediately and give the Lions a player who can help the offense in a plethora of ways. It’s the safest pick with the highest upside, and a pick I think the Lions would make in real life.
2nd round (41) Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
With the offensive line addressed, Lions fans get their wish of adding an athletic linebacker who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Davis (47 percent of the vote) edged out Purdue WR Rondale Moore (38.4 percent) and a variety of defensive backs. Adding a safety is one of the biggest needs on the roster, but it’s hard to argue the value of Davis here.
Davis will likely start off the bench behind Alex Anzalone at inside linebacker, but he is talented enough—especially in coverage—to see the field early and could end up with starter-level snaps by the end of the season.
3rd round (72) Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
Another vote-off, as fans overwhelmingly wanted (71.3 percent) a receiver here over adding a defensive lineman, corner, or safety. In the vote-off, Collins (39.1 percent) beat out D’Wayne Eskridge (29.3 percent), Amon-Ra St. Brown (20.7 percent), and Tylan Wallace (10.9 percent).
All four receivers are in the same grading tier for me but Collins is the only one who doesn’t have a history of playing out of the slot and has never been known for his ability to separate—which is a trait Jared Goff needs in a pass catcher.
So why did the fans opt for Collins over the equally-graded players who have separation skills? Could be he played in Ann Arbor. Could be his elite pro day results. I do believe Collins is capable of playing at a higher level than he showed at Michigan, and while he doesn’t fill an immediate starter role, the potential is there to be a long-term starter—and adding players with that trait is what the draft is all about.
In POD’s dueling mock drafts post, I selected Eskridge right around this pick, and probably would have done the same in this situation.
3rd round (101) Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
Another vote-off, this time at safety, as fans appeared to really want to fill a massive hole on the roster. This safety vote was the closest of the day by far and saw Washington edge out Andre Cisco in the final five votes—winning by less than 1 percent of the vote.
Washington is undersized (5-foot-8.5, 176 pounds) but he has elite instincts and coverage range. He is immediately the Lions nickel safety, capable of playing at free safety and in the slot.
4th round (112) Shaun Wade, NB/S, Ohio State
Alim McNeill (NT, NC State) had the second most votes at pick No. 101 and was still available at No. 112, so I put him back in the mix. Once again, he came in second place, this time being edged out by Wade, who got 36.1 percent compared to McNeil’s to 33.5 percent.
After thriving in the slot in 2019, the Buckeyes moved Wade outside to take over Jeff Okudah’s role in 2020. Heading into the season, he was projected to potentially be a first-round candidate if he continued his developmental trajectory. Unfortunately, he had a disastrous 2020 season, his draft stock plummeted, and there were several questions raised about his skill set.
After flashing such promise in 2019, it would be a wise decision to move Wade back into the slot or to safety in the NFL. And with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant on staff in Detroit—along with Okudah on the roster— this would be a terrific place for Wade to land.
5th round (153) Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Lions fans opted to double-dip at wide receiver instead of at linebacker, or adding defensive line/running back depth.
Palmer is an underrated receiver who showed up big when he played against big competition in the SEC. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds he is a WR-Z (outside) receiver with long-term starting potential. While he’s likely to be WR4 on the outside in 2021, pairing Palmer with Collins (WR-X) would give the Lions a nice base to build their receiving room around.
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