The Detroit Lions have been a disappointment since hiring Matt Patricia as Head Coach. General Manager Bob Quinn, along with Matt Patricia, are both expected to be in new situations next season. While it’s still too early to predict what the Lions will do in the 2021 NFL Draft, I still think we can look at potential fits in a mock draft. Team needs and positional concerns are becoming much clearers the season progresses.
First Round – Pick 11
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Detroit has five wide receivers set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, including Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, and Marvin Jones. Needless to say, the Lions must address wide receiver in the offseason, even if that means re-signing one of their receivers. Despite that, and with Jaylen Waddle available in this mock draft, the Lions would be smart to select the Crimson Tide receiver.
This season at Alabama, with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III in the NFL, Jaylen Waddle has been rewarded with a full-time position. Through three games, Waddle has 19 receptions for 396 receiving yards, including 3 touchdowns. Speaking of Henry Ruggs III, Waddle has shown to be nearly as fast, which obviously opens up the offense a considerable amount.
Second Round – Pick 43
Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State
Through four games, Detroit is last in rushing yards allowed per game. It should go without saying, but the interior defensive line needs to be upgraded. Entering the 2020 College Football season, I had high expectations for Florida State. However, this season has been nothing short of a disaster. As a result, Wilson could fall down draft boards.
While the defensive line may not be a pressing need for the Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them draft a lineman, especially if the 2021 NFL Draft plays out as this mock draft has. Even more so, he’d almost certainly be an immediate starter for Detroit.
Third Round – Pick 75
Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Much like their wide receiver situation, the Lions have several linebackers set to hit free agency. Going further, shoring up inconsistencies at the position would go a long ways in improving there run defense.
The Detroit Lions are likely to clean house before the 2021 NFL Draft, so a new regime would be making the decisions here. However, Nick Bolton would be a solid pick for the Lions in the third round, as he is in this mock draft.
Fourth Round – Pick 106
Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
Offensive line depth is the goal with this pick. I’m doubtful that Spencer Brown will be able to play the tackle position early in his career, but I don’t believe that the Lions need him to. Rather, they can have him provide backup depth at the guard position. Down the line, if Brown is able to, then he could potentially start for Detroit.
This draft pick isn’t about the 2021 season. Instead, this is about the long-term depth on the offensive line for Detroit. The Lions fourth round pick in this mock draft is about being able to win games deep into a season, when depth at all positions, is the most important.
Fifth Round – Pick 138
Palaie Gaoteote IV, LB, USC
Admittedly, I couldn’t help myself in drafting another linebacker for the Lions here in this mock draft. I’m a fan of what Palaie Gaoteote IV is able to do, as I laid out in this scouting report from this summer.
However, if I were the Lions, I’d likely lean more towards moving back in the 2021 NFL Draft. They don’t have a seventh round pick in 2021, but by trading out of this pick, they could potentially add an additional pick this year, or a 2022 NFL Draft pick. It’s not going to be controversial to say that the Lions aren’t going to win next season either. Instead, I’d push for them to move back from this pick and reload via additional draft capital.
Sixth Round – Pick 170
TJ Vasher, WR, Texas Tech
I hate to make the obvious comparison, but measuring in at 6’6, I don’t know how you don’t think of Calvin Johnson when you watch TJ Vasher game film, which I broke down in this summer scouting report.
Casher would be a developmental pick for the Lions in this mock draft, but as I mentioned in the first round, they have huge holes to fill at the position. In theory, Detroit could play Vasher situationally, such as in the redzone, and improve their success rate, which is 23rd in the NFL.