Lions full mock draft: Let’s make some trades edition

USA Today

This latest edition of the full 7-round Lions mock draft explores a specific theme. This one is about seeing what it might look like if Lions GM Brad Holmes opts to trade up from No. 29 overall in the first round.

It’s an idea worth exploring. Holmes has proven he will aggressively pursue players he really likes; witness the trade up to land Jameson Williams back in the 2022 NFL draft.

That specific deal is a good baseline for what a jump up might cost. In that deal, the Lions traded No. 32, No. 34 and No. 69 overall to the Vikings for No. 12 and No. 46 overall. The trade hypothesized here involves a similar type of compensation.

First round: Trade up for Terrion Arnold

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Trade details: The Lions trade No. 29, No. 73 and a 2025 second-round pick to the Saints for No. 14 and No. 150 overall.

This trade presumes that Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell is already off the board. The impetus to move way up is to get in front of the Indianapolis Colts at No. 15, who sorely need cornerback help and are often projected to take Arnold if he’s on the board. It’s a steep price to pay in giving up next year’s second-rounder, but it’s either this year’s 2nd and a third next year or vice versa to make the Rich Hill trade chart value work reasonably close, and I don’t want to go 60 slots without picking in this year’s draft.

Arnold is a great schematic fit for the Lions at outside CB. He’s a confident playmaker with a very high football IQ and a nice blend of length and closing speed. Arnold’s coverage instincts and quick reactions are top-shelf, and he’s at his best in the aggressive press-man style the Lions seem to want to deploy more in Aaron Glenn’s defense.

Running out an outside CB tandem of Arnold and Carlton Davis, with Amik Robertson as the No. 3, completely transforms the biggest weakness on the team in 2023 into what should be one of the best combinations in the NFC right away.

Thanks to Adam from the Saints Block Party Podcast for negotiating on the Saints behalf!

Second round: Trade back for more picks

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Faced with the prospect of no picks between No. 61 and No. 150 (acquired in the above trade), Holmes plays dealmaker once again. The Lions trade No. 61, No. 150 and No. 247 (seventh round) to the Arizona Cardinals for No. 66 and No. 90 overall, both in the third round. Arizona moved up to land Missouri CB Ennis Rakestraw at 61.

Third round, 1st pick after trades: Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 14: Devontez Walker #9 of the North Carolina Tar Heels breaks away from Kamren Kinchens #5 of the Miami Hurricanes for a touchdown during the second half of their game at Kenan Memorial Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 41-31. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

In the last Lions 7-round mock, I slotted Walker to Detroit in the second. He’s still available here a few slots later at No. 66, and I strongly believe the team’s seemingly heavy interest in Walker is legit. The talented Tar Heel offers a lot of potential to fill the Josh Reynolds role in Ben Johnson’s passing offense.

I’m not a big fan of this scenario, but the point is to try and anticipate what Brad Holmes would do. And I do think Walker is the exact type of wideout Holmes would want in this range.

3rd round, 2nd pick after trades: Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame

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We recently profiled Fisher, and the Fighting Irish right tackle is a good schematic fit as the top reserve tackle and desperately needed insurance policy in case either Taylor Decker or Penei Sewell is forced to miss more than a handful of snaps. It’s iffy that a promising talent like Fisher will be on the board at No. 90, but he made it here.

Fifth round: Kitan Oladapo, S, Oregon State

Nov 19, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Oregon State Beavers defensive back Kitan Oladapo (28) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Putting the “strong” in safety, Oladapo is a good fit in the Lions’ defense. Here’s what I wrote about him after the NFL Scouting Combine,

It’s hard not to see some of the end-of-2023 Ifeatu Melifonwu in Oladapo’s game. Like the Lions safety, Oladapo is at his best attacking downhill inside the tackle box and blitzing from all over the formation. The deeper and wider he gets, the more problems arise with the lack of long speed and lateral fluidity in coverage. Oladapo has been more durable and instinctive in coverage, however.

With his age and his limited role–he looks like a box safety or hybrid LB/SS only in the NFL–Oladapo is generally projected in the fourth or fifth round of the 2024 NFL draft. He fits the Lions’ grit and scheme in that range if they choose to bolster the paper-thin (for now) safety depth chart.

That safety depth chart remains paper thin, and this is a good time to address it. Oladapo is also custom-made for the new kickoff and kick return rules.

6th round, 1st pick: Jordan Jefferson, DT, LSU

Former LSU and Navarre High School DL Jordan Jefferson (99) tries to get past National Team offensive linemen former Wisconsin OL Tanor Bortolini (63) and Florida OL Kingsley Eguakun (65) during the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

This picture of Jordan Jefferson from the Senior Bowl practices is pretty emblematic of his play. He’s a thick, strong, immovable object of a nose tackle, but the West Virginia transfer does have some penetration and twist/stunt ability. Jefferson gave me the best interview answer of the draft season when I asked him to sell me on his game,

“Nobody will ever run through your A-gap again. Ever,” he said with an intense tone but engagingly excited eyes.

That sold me, and I think it would sell Aaron Glenn and Dan Campbell, too. Good depth behind D.J. Reader.

6th round, 2nd pick: Matt Lee, IOL, Miami FL

Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami-Fl offensive lineman Matt Lee (OL43) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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