ESPN’s Todd McShay presented an interesting scenario in his latest Mock Draft (subscription required), projecting an early run on quarterbacks, including a trade-up by the Carolina Panthers, who currently hold the No. 8 overall pick. Two more offensive players would be selected before the Detroit Lions were on the clock with pick No. 7.
Here’s how the board fell ahead of the Lions spot, with links to SB Nation’s team sites for reaction to McShay’s pairings (save for the Jaguars since they’ve been connected to their pick for roughly four months):
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
With the three top wide receivers in this draft class still on the board—all valued as top-10 selections— and the Lions in the middle of rebuilding that position, they had their pick of the litter in this scenario.
McShay’s pick for the Lions: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
“It’s tough to favor either Chase or Alabama’s DeVonta Smith over the other, but the former might have an edge thanks to better physical traits,” McShay said. “Perhaps his opt-out season has some forgetting that Chase posted 20 touchdowns and close to 1,800 receiving yards in 2019. The Lions’ wide receiver corps is expected to see major turnover over the next few weeks, and new Detroit GM Brad Holmes needs to find some playmakers for the recently acquired Jared Goff.”
McShay surprisingly left Jaylen Waddle out of his options for the Lions here, as some believe he could be the better of the Alabama receivers. But it probably didn’t matter anyway because Chase is heavily regarded as the top wide receiver in this draft class.
Chase is an extraordinary athlete who can line up all over the field. His ability to transition speeds during his routes makes him extremely difficult to cover and leads to him creating natural separation. Even with the gained distance between defenders, he still attacks the ball when it’s in the air. Once he secures it, he is difficult to bring down due to his speed and physical play.
Ja'Marr Chase is amazing.— James Simpson (@JS_Football) January 13, 2021
Watch every touchdown from his 2019 season pic.twitter.com/SIjLcyXYUa
The combination of elite traits makes Chase a very desirable choice for the Lions and he would fit in perfectly, regardless of what they decide to do with Kenny Golladay.
McShay’s college at ESPN, and Lions beat writer, Michael Rothstein weighed in on his fit with the Lions: “Wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and Jamal Agnew are set to be free agents, and questions loom about whether Detroit will tag Kenny Golladay or let him walk. Detroit signed veteran Tyrell Williams this week, but the Lions are obviously seeking playmaking cornerstones for their rebuild. Chase fits in that mold perfectly.”