When we last checked in with ESPN draft expert Todd McShay, he was slotting LSU wide receiver La’Marr Chase to the Detroit Lions with the seventh overall pick in his first mock draft of the offseason.
With the postseason now over and the entire first-round draft order set, McShay took another shot at a mock, and the results are somewhat similar for the Lions. McShay sticks with the wide receiver position, but this time shifts his pick to Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
In this scenario, the quarterbacks flew off the board. The top four passers went in the top four picks: Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars, Zach Wilson to the Jets, Trey Lance to the Panthers (after a trade with the Dolphins), and Justin Fields to the Falcons.
That allowed a lot of talented non-quarterbacks to fall in the draft to the Lions. With offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Chase off the board, the Lions could take the best defensive player in the draft or find the second best tackle or wide receiver. McShay went the receiver route.
With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola set to become free agents—and the Detroit Lions not having a lot of cap space to offer them a competitive deal—McShay thinks Detroit needs to address this high in the draft.
“It’s a problem, but not one that the Heisman winner can’t help solve,” McShay wrote. “Smith is explosive, piling on 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior year.”
In 2020, Smith had one of the most dominant seasons from a wide receiver in college football. Those 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns resulted in the first Heisman Trophy awarded to a wide receiver since 1991 (Desmond Howard) and just the fourth ever. Smith really shined in the National Championship game, picking up 215 yards and three touchdowns in just two quarters of play.
Smith injured his finger in that game, which resulted in surgery. However, he is expected to have a fully-functioning finger by the time the 2021 season rolls around.
The biggest concern about Smith, though, is his size. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, there isn’t a lot of precedents for a receiver that light succeeding in the NFL.
There are over 2,500 WR in the RAS database with a height and weight recorded.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) January 3, 2021
Over 2,100 from 2000-2020.
Of those? Only 27 were 6' or taller and under 180 pounds.
Of those? Only a single receiver since 2000 with those measurements broke 750 yards receiving in a single season.
That being said, Smith’s athleticism is hard to ignore, and for a Detroit team who has been in need for a speedy receiver for quite some time, Smith is a guy that could come in and contribute immediately.