Detroit Lions 2021 roster needs / NFL Draft strategy (Part 1 - Wide Receivers)
Updated: Mar 31
In my previous post, I highlighted the remaining roster spots that need filling (at the very least):
Within the above the Lions need:
An outside WR1, and a starting slot WR
3 backup O-lineman
A starting MIKE linebacker to free up Jamie Collins and a backup ILB
A starting slot CB, ideally a starting calibre CB to give competition with Okudah and Oruwariye, and two backup CBs with special teams upside
A starting strong safety, and backup general safety.
Assuming no further positions are filled in Free Agency, let's take a look at where the Detroit Lions are picking in the 2021 NFL Draft, and who is likely to be available at each spot.
In this draft, at the time of writing, Detroit picks at the following spots:
7, 41, 72, 101, 112, 153.
In turn, by position group, let's highlight who might be available at each pick position. Each player will be linked to their player profile at a reputable draft profile website.
With the recent blockbuster trades between San Francisco, Miami and Philidelphia, it appears likely that all the big receivers might be on the board at 7. They are:
Ja'Marr Chase, LSU. 6'0, 208. Chase is an elite deep threat who specialises in winning 50:50 balls and generally bullying CBs. He's not got elite speed or height. Think a more refined Kenny Golladay. He opted out of the 2020 season but is often
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama. 5'10, 182. Waddle is a smaller receiver but he's elite in every part of his game, from release to route running, RAC ability, shiftiness, speed...
DeVonta Smith, Alabama. 6'1, 170. Smith is tall but has potentially the thinnest legs ever seen. He's maybe the most talented WR of the three, but major question marks exist about someone of his size succeeding in the NFL - he'd be a major outlier if he did.
Rashod Bateman, Minnesota. 6'2, 210. Bateman is mocked consistently to go in the middle of the first round, but he's potentially the best deep threat of those mentioned, is an ideal weight for his height, great catch radius, explosive, he's not far behind the top 3! A potential candidate in a trade down.
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss. 5'9, 185. Electric receiver with elite athletic traits but lacks strength with contact. Posted a 4.32s 4-yard dash, and 6.65s 3-cone drill at his pro day
Rondale Moore, Purdue. 5'7, 180. Amazingly fast and shifty receiver (4.29s 40-yard dash and 6.68s 3-cone time) but he's two inches shorter than the teams thought, and was already thought of as small. At that height, he could be pigeon-holed into slot and gadget roles only in the NFL.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC. 6'1, 195. Nice size and build, he's fast, agile and got explosiveness. He has issues with consistency and effort with blocking downfield, but tested well in his pro-day and has WR1 potential in his future.
Dyami Brown, North Carolina. 6'1, 185. A big play downfield receiver who's a little undersized. Excellent release off the line and great route running and hand-eye coordination. Not the best through contact but has the potential to be the biggest sleeper in the draft.
D'Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan. 5'9, 190. One of the faster receivers in the draft, his size may be slightly limiting in the pros, but he's electric with the ball in hand.
Nico Collins, Michigan. 6'4, 215. His combination of size and speed appears unique in this draft. His lack of quality play at QB at Michigan hampered his ability to show great tape. He still needs some polishing but should thrive in the NFL early.
Tutu Atwell, Louisville. 5'9, 165. Made a surprise appearance in the first round of Daniel Jeremiah's first mock draft, Chatarius Atwell is an elite athlete but clearly, his size is an issue and he, therefore, struggles in battles.
Seth Williams, Auburn. 6'2, 225. A possession-based receiver with a great catch radius and surprising speed for someone of his size. His lack of top-level speed hampers his separation ability.
Jaelon Darden, 5'9, 170. Possibly the shiftiest receiver in college football. His size is limiting, but as a slot receiver and returner should be productive.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest. 6'2, 215. He's not played football for almost 16 months, but great awareness and hands. Limited ability to separate due to a lack of top-end speed.
Amari Rodgers, Clemson. 5'9, 211. His size will limit him to a slot role, but he plays bigger than his size. Lacks top-end speed but good route running, reliable hands and good breaks in routes means he will find a place in the NFL. Also a good returner.
Anthony Schwartz, Auburn. 6'0, 179. A former track star, he's an absolute burner, running a 4.26 40-yard dash. He's very raw, often looking like a track star rather than a football player but will grow into the sport quickly and will be a matchup nightmare from the slot.
Simi Fehoko, Stanford. 6'4, 227. A big-bodied receiver with good hands and route-running ability. Also has a burst of speed with a 4.42s 40-yard dash but finds his play speed slower than this. He's only made 5 college starts.
Shi Smith, South Carolina. 5'10, 186. A speedy receiver who can gain separation but does have size issues. Can also double as a return specialist.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa. 6'1, 179. Terrific size and speed, if slightly underweight. Good all-around receiver but can lack concentration at times. Doubles as a kick returner.
Dazz Newsome, North Carolina. 5'11, 190. Another receiver probably best in the slot, a good route runner who's quick but has been limited to simple routes and needs to gain some experience before being ready at the professional level.
Tamorrion Terry, Florida State. 6'4, 203. A burner with ideal height, his inconsistency is his main issue. A work in progress with a high pro ceiling, but also a high bust rate.
Hopefully, that introduces you to some of the names that may become Detroit Lions for 2021 and beyond, given the glaring need at the position.
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