What the Lions are getting in their 13-player UDFA class

Pride of Detroit

In addition to the seven players the Detroit Lions selected in the 2021 draft, they also confirmed they will be signing another 13 rookies as undrafted free agents. Let’s take a closer look at who they added and what these players bring to the roster.

Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas

5-foot-11 1/2, 213 pounds

Boyd was a productive player in his 20 starts heading into 2020, averaging over 6.0 yards per carry over 307 touches. 2020 was a bit of a mess, though, due to injury and he eventually opted out after six games. Boyd is an instinctive runner who takes what’s in front of him. He’s quicker than fast, but he can get skinny in the hole, is experienced on screens, and can be used on third downs.

Dedrick Mills, RB, Nebraska

5-foot-9 1/2, 217 pounds

The Cornhuskers’ leading rusher the past two seasons, Mills is another rusher who will benefit from a zone-blocking scheme that will allow him to get upfield quickly. Like Boyd, he’s a take what’s in front of you runner who can be used on third downs, but he has more power to his game.

Jonathan Adams Jr., WR, Arkansas State

6-foot-2, 210 pounds

The Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, Adams had 79 catches for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. His long speed is average but he has great explosion and it helps him consistently win the 50/50 ball. He’s not going to run away from people, across the middle or deep, but his ability to be a contested-catch threat downfield could earn him WR6 consideration.

6-foot-1 1/2, 215 pounds

A “what could have been” type player. McKinley was highly recruited out of high school but only played in 19 games over his first four years due to multiple injuries and a 2019 arrest (battery). He finally worked his way into the starting lineup as a fifth-year senior and led the Irish in receiving. Like Adams, he is a big-bodied downfield contested catcher who needs to develop his game and expand it to different spots on the field.

6-foot-2 1/2, 209 pounds

Likely headed for a Big Slot receiving role, Surratt’s strong enough to go over the middle to secure catches, but he doesn’t offer much in the way of YAC. He has terrific focus when making the catch, and like the other UDFA WRs, isn’t bothered by traffic, but needs a lot of work to expand his game beyond that. For those asking if there was a role for Quintez Cephus on the Lions roster, signing Surratt points to the answer being yes. Now the next question is, can Surratt challenge him for that role?

Brock Wright, TE, Notre Dame

6-foot-4 1/2, 257 pounds

A highly athletic tight end (RAS = 9.2) who was used mostly as a blocker in South Bend. He’s worked hard at his craft and he has the potential to stick as a TE3 based on his blocking skills and developmental upside.

6-foot-4 1/4, 242 pounds

Another blocking tight end who will compete for a back-end role. His lack of long speed will likely make TE3 his ceiling, though he’s strong enough to stick there.

Tommy Kraemer, RG, Notre Dame

6-foot-5 1/2, 309 pounds

A four-year starter at right guard and right tackle for the Irish, Kraemer will need to stay inside in the NFL as he struggles with athletes on the edge, causing his technique to waiver. There’s a chance for him to stick around at guard though as he has the power to win in close quarters, but he needs to fix his waist bending.

Drake Jackson, C, Kentucky

6-foot-2, 293 pounds

Strength and competitiveness will get you a shot in the NFL, and Jackson will be counting on those traits to help him stick Detroit. A four-year, 45-game starter on an aggressive offensive line in Kentucky, Jackson is a technician inside and has NFL-level hands/movement. As I said in our draft class superlatives: “Forget about Beau Benzschawel, this is your new UDFA OL crush”.

Tavante Beckett, LB, Marshall

5-foot-10, 220 pounds

Undersized for the linebacker position, Beckett may be in line for a position switch in the NFL, even if it’s only a slight adjustment to a hang defender role. His intensity shows up on the field, as does his ability to find room in traffic, which could make him a valuable special teams contributor.

Jerry Jacobs, CB, Arkansas

5-foot-10, 208 pounds

An aggressive coverage corner who likes to get physical in run support, Jacobs’ limited experience has stunted his development over the past two seasons. After an ACL tear in 2019, then opting out of 2020 after four games, he’s only played seven games in the last two seasons and needs more refinement. There is talent there, but he looks like he is going to need time before he can contribute.

AJ Parker, NB, Kansas State

5-foot-11, 182 pounds

A three and half year starter, Parker can play all three corner spots, though he mostly lined up at nickelback. Parker is a smooth athlete and better in coverage than in run support, but he’s shown the skills to wrap up smaller offensive players. When asked to play off coverage, he shows good awareness tracking, can get his hands on the ball, leading to six interceptions over the last three years. With the Lions, he has a chance to develop into a dime back, with special teams value.

D’Angelo Amos, S/RET, Virginia

6-foot, 191 pounds

Amos is a rangy safety who excels at tracking the ball, which also shows up on special teams as a punt returner, where he took five to the house when he was at James Madison. In Detroit, he will likely compete for a reserve single-high safety role, but his most likely path to the roster is as a returner.

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