Following the 2021 NFL Draft, Lions fans understood what Brad Holmes was trying to do. Taking 3 linemen in rounds 1, 2, and 3 is not how you excite fans, but hitting a homerun on Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth allowed Holmes to gain the trust of the fan base. Sewell, McNeil, and St. Brown all showed that they will be good players for Detroit. This year, I’m expecting a heavy investment in the defense. Improvements need to be made at all three levels, and I suspect that our draft picks will reflect that. Let’s get into it.
Round 1, Pick 2 – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Detroit Lions need a pass-rusher. Whether it’s Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Lions need one of them. Cementing the trenches has been clearly the priority of this staff. Getting a game-changing rusher will immediately relieve stress of Oruwariye and more importantly, Okudah. There is speculation that Thibodeaux may have some off-field issues, but I trust that Detroit will do their DD looking into that. After drafting Sewell last year, I’m sure that he himself knows Thibs enough to adequately assess his personality, along with having communication to Oregon’s coaching staff.
Round 1, Pick 32 – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Dax Hill did not disappoint at Michigan, coming in as a 5 star recruit. Re-signing Tracy Walker III keeps not only a great player on the field, but a leader in the locker room. However, a second safety is needed alongside him. Will Harris was an exciting prospect, but Hill could be the game changer this defense needs. DeShon Elliot has recently been sign, which may move the need for a safety down the list of priorities, but with the league spreading the ball across the field, having 3 safeties on the field that can all tackle is an incredible advantage. Elliot is a phenomenal player when he is on the field; however, he has had injury issues over the course of his career. For a 1-year deal, Elliot coming in while Dax Hill develops is a benefit for both Hill and the Lions. Aaron Glenn showed an exceptional ability to coach up his DBs in New Orleans, and he will look to do the same here in Detroit.
Round 2, Pick 34 – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
George Pickens is an interesting prospect, as he could very well be taken in the first round, or fall until the late third round. What I like about Pickens is that he is a tall, perimeter receiver who will be great in the red zone. He has the ability to run the entire route tree, and pairing him with the Sun God gives the Lions real talent at receiver. As Dax Hill wouldn’t be expected to start day one, Pickens might not either. DJ Chark is on a one-year deal in Detroit, but also has injury concerns. Pickens has the ability to start day one, and he very well may, but at least he will have time to get the pace of the NFL down before he is expected to be a great receiver for this team.
Round 3, Pick 66 – Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
The Lions need LB depth, but Asamoah has the potential to be more than just depth. He has sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability. He isn’t a MIKE LB enforcer that many feel the Lions need, but I think speed is a pressing need for Detroit’s linebackers. Asamoah can play primarily in nickel packages and special teams, before contributing heavily in a near every-down role for this defense.
Round 3, Pick 97 – Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
The cornerback class this year has quite the plethora of talent, and I believe Detroit could strike gold in the middle/late round. I have them taking Josh Jobe, who is a boundary corner that is not afraid to tackle. Coming from Alabama, he has experience playing against NFL talent wide receivers, both in games and practice. Jobe is noted as being aggressive, which may result in holding receivers down the field. The Detroit Lions have excellent defensive back coaches in Aaron Glenn and Aubrey Pleasant, so giving them a guy that has the tools to be great could be a recipe for success in this instance.
Round 5, Pick 177 – Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
Unfortunate circumstances surrounding Ross have led him to drop from a possible first round pick to an extremely risky late round pick. Ross underwent surgery to repair his neck/spine, which caused him to miss the 2020 season. He best lines up as a Z or a big slot, which putting him next to the Sun God with Chark/Pickens on the opposite side would be extremely helpful for QB Jared Goff. Ross is a very smooth receiver who, if returns to 2019 form, could be the steal of the draft.
Round 6, Pick 181 – Lecitus Smith, IOL, Virginia Tech
Lecitus Smith is a former TE recruit at Virginia Tech that switched to guard in 2018. He’s a good athlete that is still relatively new to the position, but could be a project for this staff. Smith has a solid build, with great aggressiveness that could hopefully lead him to possibly starting on Detroit’s line in a few years. Regardless, as a depth piece, he will bring some upside to one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.
Round 6, Pick 217 – Neil Farrell Jr., IDL, LSU
Although the Lions invested heavily at the position last year, Farrell can come to the Lions and add pass rushing ability from defensive tackle. His run defense has been criticized, but developing into a 3-down player is not out of the question.
Round 7, Pick 234 – Zonovan Knight, RB, NC State
D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams need another body to take off some of their workload. Knight was NC State’s leading rusher all three seasons, and could immediately get reps in Detroit. He projects as a no.2 back and kick returner, which would make this pick an A+, barring that Knight doesn’t stay healthy or is atrocious. As long as he can stay on the field, Knight would be poised to be a great pick.