I am not doing a 2021 NFL mock draft in April of 2020, because I’m not a psychopath. However, I have no problem looking at other people’s mocks and breaking them down.
Let’s be honest, mock drafts a year into the future are extremely silly. Talent changes drastically in the midst of a season. You need to look no further than this year’s first overall pick, Joe Burrow, to recognize that things can change very fast. Burrow was just a modest Ohio State transfer who completed only 57.8 percent of his passes in 2018. Look at any mock draft from a year ago, and Burrow’s name isn’t on any of them.
That being said, it is fun to look back on them as they related to the Detroit Lions. A look at least year’s crop of way-too-early mocks shows that analysts were actually on the right track. A few had them taking Derrick Brown in the top 10. A couple got the position right (cornerback) but the prospect wrong (Trevon Diggs, Kristian Fulton). Of course, there was one wild card that was way off: Jake Fromm.
So now that we’ve accepted that this is a ridiculous exercise, but mildly fun, here’s a look at some 2021 NFL mock drafts and the selections for Detroit.
Note: Before you get offended about where the Lions are drafting, realize most of these draft orders are determined by Vegas odds.
SB Nation (Dan Kadar)
Lions’ pick (8th overall): Clemson WR Justyn Ross
It’s not all that surprising to see mocks send a receiver the Lions’ way, as Detroit doesn’t have a receiver currently signed beyond the 2020 season (until fifth-round pick Quintez Cephus signs his rookie deal). If the Lions don’t re-sign both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., they will almost certainly be looking for wide receiver help next offseason.
The question is who?
Kadar slots 6-foot-4, 205 pound Clemson receiver Justyn Ross to Detroit. Ross burst onto the scene his freshman year at Clemson, pulling in 1,00 yards and nine touchdowns. He took a small step back with 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. But with all-star Trevor Lawrence coming back for a year, Ross has the opportunity to shine once more.
SI.com (Kevin Hanson)
Lions’ pick (8th overall): Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
Hanson sticks at wide receiver, but goes with Crimson Tide’s Jaylen Waddle. Now out of the shadow of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Waddle has the opportunity to shine at Alabama. We saw glimpses of what Waddle can do his freshman year (2019), when he gained 848 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Waddle, at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, is a much different receiver than Ross. Where Ross wins with size and strength, Waddle wins with speed. As Alabama’s punt returner, Waddle led the country in both punt return yards (487) and punt return average (24.4!!).
Bleacher Report (Matt Miller)
Lions’ pick (7th overall): Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
Miller went with a different Crimson Tide receiver: DeVonta Smith. Despite playing with both Jeudy and Ruggs, Smith actually led Alabama in both receiving yards (1,256) and touchdowns (14) last year.
Smith has speed and agility, though he may need to pack on a few more pounds to build strength into his game. Still, with production like that, he’s likely to hear his name called early next year.
CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)
Lions’ pick (10th overall): Alabama DB Patrick Surtain II
Despite adding Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant this offseason, Wilson believes Detroit could add another cornerback next year.
Surtain has the size (6-foot-2, 203 pounds) that the Lions like and he’s coming off a solid season’s worth of production (eight PBUs, two interceptions).
With Trufant only signed for a two-year deal, it’s not ridiculous to think they could go back to the cornerback well next year, but we’ll see.
The Athletic (Dane Brugler)
Lions’ pick (8th overall): Florida State DT Marvin Wilson
After passing on Derrick Brown this year, Brugler believes the Lions improve the middle of their defensive line with Wilson. The Seminole defensive tackle sits 6-foot-5, 310 pounds and would be a prime candidate to be the team’s nose tackle of the future. He even recorded five sacks last year before suffering a season-ending hand injury.
Fox Sports (Jason McIntyre)
Lions’ pick (20th overall): Stanford CB Paulson Adebo
I had to include this last one, because McIntyre starts his analysis with “The Lions are going to the playoffs.” Flattery will get you everywhere, Jason.
Anyways, Adebo meets the size requirements for a Lions physical cornerback (6-foot-1) and is coming off a frustrating year full of injuries. But he still has 38 passes defended and eight interceptions in the last two seasons.