With the Lions in full rebuild, re-stocking mode, the NFL draft could not possibly be more important.
Is it a bigger deal than in recent history? Quite possibly.
It will be the first major test GM Brad Holmes and his staff including Chris Spielman. Don’t forget Holmes was the director of college scouting for the Rams before Detroit hired him, so this is not all foreign territory.
Unlike a year ago, when GM Bob Quinn and his staff each worked from their houses due to the pandemic, Holmes will have company with up to 10 people in the war room with him.
With the No. 7 pick, Holmes could have plenty of options. The key to a trade is it takes two teams. This sounds basic, but if he doesn’t move up or down and gets criticized it doesn’t mean he didn’t try.
The Lions have six draft picks overall.
Round 1: No. 7
Round 2: No. 41
Round 3: No. 72
Round 3: No. 101 (from Rams)
Round 4: No. 112
Round 5: No. 153
The draft opens on Thursday at 8 p.m. Rounds 2 and 3 will take place starting Friday at 7 p.m. The draft for the remaining rounds will start at noon on Saturday.
Five things to know:
1. The Lions desperately need a No. 1 wide receiver but will they take one in the first round? Options include Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) and Ja’Marr Chase (LSU). Detroit has quite a history of making this move. From 2003 to 2007 they used their first-round picks on wide receivers four times. Charles Rogers (2003) was an absolute bust. Calvin Johnson (2007) is a Hall of Famer. Since Johnson, they’ve drafted three tight ends in the first round but no wide receiver. Holmes said he’s well aware of the franchise’s draft history but it should not affect who he picks.
2. Needs abound on both sides of the ball. In a pre-draft press conference Holmes would not say whether he’ll focus on offense or defense in the first round. It doesn’t make sense to limit himself. So don’t be disappointed one way or the other. This team needs work.
3. A quarterback could be a more likely pick in the first round. With Matthew Stafford gone and Jared Goff in his place, the Lions could be looking for a long-term replacement at quarterback. Trey Lance (North Dakota State) is one option. Would Ohio State’s Justin Fields be a reach at No. 7? There’s some debate on that. Quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Zach Wilson (BYU) and Mac Jones (Ohio State) could go 1-2-3. If Holmes loves one of them it could be costly to try to move up.
4. Taylor Decker said this week he’d welcome help on the offensive line. Several mock drafts have Oregon’s Penei Sewell getting drafted by the Lions. From 2012 to 2018 the Lions drafted four starting offensive linemen: Riley Reiff (2012), Laken Tomlinson (2015), Decker (2016) and Frank Ragnow (2018). Only Decker and Ragnow are still with the Lions. Reiff signed with the Bengals and Tomlinson with the 49ers. There is a need. Is Sewell the guy?
5. Holmes could pull a surprise, but don’t expect him to go too far off the charts. He said he’s learned from others that when that pick is called, he must be comfortable with the decision. It’s OK if no one has mocked that person to Detroit, but he sounds like he won’t take a flyer, he’ll be totally at ease that he’s made the right pick.
PREDICTION: WR Jaylen Waddle, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.