With the top 18 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft finally set, ESPN’s Todd McShay took his first real crack at a mock draft. The Detroit Lions currently hold the seventh overall pick and could go in a multitude of directions. Their defense obviously needs a lot of help after finishing the season last in both yards and points allowed. The next general manager could be bold and pick a quarterback with his first pick, hoping to get younger at the position and eventually move on from the Matthew Stafford era.
But McShay chose a third route. With the seventh overall pick, McShay has the Lions selecting LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
“A new coaching staff and general manager might take the team in a new direction, and maybe that direction is with Justin Fields driving the offense,” McShay wrote. “But it’s tough to ignore how well Chase matches need with value here for the Lions.”
The Lions’ need for a wide receiver is well-documented. Their top three receivers, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola, are all set to become free agents, and the Lions’ level of interest in re-signing them is uncertain.
Chase would provide the Lions with a steady set of hands and a versatile skillset. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, he’s the athletic receiver the Lions have truly been missing. He’s also a refined route runner that can go up and catch contested catches, as well.
Chase was the second receiver off the board for McShay after Heisman-winner DeVonta Smith went three to the Dolphins. Interestingly enough, only two quarterbacks were off the board with Detroit off the clock: Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars with the first pick and Zach Wilson to the Falcons with the fourth pick. Justin Fields fell all the way to 15 to the New England Patriots. On the defensive side of the ball, only one player was taken before Detroit’s pick, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.