In a normal NFL offseason, we’d be preparing right now for the Detroit Lions’ preseason opener later in the week. But with practices open to the media starting next week, and everything else way behind schedule, there just isn’t much to talk about that hasn’t been exhausted already.
Enter 2021 NFL mock draft season.
A couple of college football conferences may have called it quits, but that didn’t stop ESPN’s Todd McShay from dropping his way-way-way-too-early 2021 mock draft. And because I know y’all are going to get mad over this, let’s be clear about his methods. Draft order was determined simply by ESPN’s Football Power Index, which has the Lions 26th in the NFL—or picking seventh in the 2021 draft.
As for the player selection, McShay slotted Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman to the Lions. Since the Big Ten cancelled their fall season, we’ve likely seen the last of Bateman’s collegiate career (he decided to opt out, anyways, a week ago).
Last year, Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns as a member of the Golden Gophers. He was named third-team All-American.
While not the most athletic receiver out there, the 6-foot-2 receiver has the sticky hands and contested catch abilities the Lions seem to love. But don’t sleep on his route-running abilities. He’s already somewhat polished there and has been able to create consistent separation at the Big Ten level.
It may not seem like an offensive skill player is exactly what the Lions need next year. After all, the Lions appear to have a pretty nice set of weapons for 2020. But as we discussed on the PODcast this week, wide receiver remains a very real need for 2021. While contract extensions are certainly possible, right now Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola are all on the final year of their deals. In terms of young, top-tier talent, the Lions really only have Golladay at wide receiver with the potential of someone like Quintez Cephus growing into a contributing role.
If you’re curious, McShay’s mock also has the Chicago Bears dipping back into the quarterback pool, the Packers finally getting a wide receiver of their own and the Vikings adding another defensive piece to their roster. Check out the full mock here.