Meet the Detroit Lions’ 2021 NFL draft class: Here’s what the rookies will bring

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions made seven selections in the 2021 NFL draft, loading up on the trenches with their first three picks.

Brad Holmes, the first-year general manager hired in January from the Los Angeles Rams, waited until the fourth round and his fifth pick to select a receiver, after the team’s top-3 wideouts all departed in free agency in March.

Here’s a look at each player the team took during the three days of the draft Thursday-Saturday from Cleveland, with links to our best stories.

Inside the Penei Sewell pick and Brad Holmes’ tone-setting first draft as Lions GM ]

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (7th overall, Round 1)

Sewell’s story is an easy one to get behind: From a shack on a beach on tiny American Samoa, to the seventh overall pick in the draft as a 20-year-old. Now, he’s the Lions’ projected right tackle as a rookie on an offensive line with two other first-round picks.

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Why Penei Sewell could make history with his first appearance

Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington (41, Round 2)

Onwuzurike made headlines for his post-draft news conference potty mouth — ‘I like (bleeping) people up’ — but seems like someone fans will enjoy if he backs it up on the field.

INSIDE THE PICK: Lions tried to trade up for Onwuzurike; sometimes ‘draft gods smile on you’

MITCH ALBOM: Lions betting that boring 2021 draft ushers in entertaining team

Alim McNeill, DT, North Carolina State (72, Round 3)

Had 5½ sacks in 2019, McNeill played linebacker and running back in high school, and was a three-time all-conference pick in baseball. Maybe he can hit for the Detroit Tigers?

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Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse (101, Round 3)

The Lions also thought about trading up for this big, athletic corner, whose brother was a second-round pick in 2017, but is now out of the league.

BIRKETT VIDEO: 2 goals the Lions accomplished during first 2 days of NFL draft

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Southern California (112, Round 4)

Labeled as “competitive” and “tough,” he comes from a hyper-athletic family and has one brother on an NFC North rival. Our Dave Birkett has St. Brown as the Lions’ biggest steal of the class.

Derrick Barnes, LB, Purdue (113, Round 4)

The Lions traded away a fifth-rounder this year and fourth-rounder next year to draft Barnes, and the pick was praised by ESPN’s draft analysts. Given his passion for lions, he looks like a great fit in this pride.

CARLOS: Lions’ winners and losers from NFL draft include Holmes, Spielman

SEIDEL: Lions finally stopped lying to themselves about rebuild. NFL draft proved it

Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State (257, Round 7)

Another Pac-12 After Dark player — did Holmes get any sleep during the college football season?! — Jefferson thought he’d go in the third- or fourth-round, but ended up being the draft’s third-to-last pick. He was fifth in the FBS last season with 154.2 yards from scrimmage per game.

Read more coverage on the Lions at freep.com/sports/lions

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