Let’s take a look at how the mock draft played out leading up to the Lions’ selection. No surprises at the top, as the Jacksonville Jaguars select QB Trevor Lawrence with the first pick and the New York Jets land QB Zach Wilson with the second. There’s a bit of a surprise with pick No. 3 when the San Francisco 49ers take QB Mac Jones, but it’s not that far out of the box. TE Kyle Pitts lands in Atlanta, WR Ja’Marr Chase goes to Cincinnati, while Miami takes WR DeVonta Smith.
With quarterbacks Trey Lance and Justin Fields still available, McShay has the Lions fielding phone calls for the pick, but because three of the four top pass catchers are already off the board, they don’t want to trade too far back. Enter the Carolina Panthers, who in an effort to block teams from jumping them, trade picks No. 8 and No. 73 (third round) to acquire pick No. 7 from the Lions.
This is a nice deal for the Lions as they gain a Day 2 pick this year, while still being able to land the player they would have likely targeted at No. 7. And with the No. 8 pick in the draft, the Lions select Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle.
“There is one of the top four pass-catchers left here and a glaring void in the Detroit wide receiver room after Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. signed elsewhere,” McShay said. “(Sorry, Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman aren’t going to cut it as No. 1 options in a division that includes Davante Adams, Allen Robinson II, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.) Waddle is an elusive burner, giving new QB Jared Goff someone to look for early and often each week.”
When pick No. 41 rolls around in the second round, McShay has the Lions standing pat and selecting LB Nick Bolton out of Missouri.
“Bolton could be the heir to the middle linebacker spot for Jamie Collins Sr.,” McShay continues. “He shows range in coverage, strong tackling and an excellent ability to read the quarterback. He had 95 tackles for Mizzou last season, along with five passes broken up and a pair of sacks.”
Bolton (5-foot-11, 237 pounds) didn’t test as athletic as he plays, and he is undersized for the position, but he flows to the ball with ease and hits like a Mack truck. He still needs to develop parts of his game, but he has the potential to be a player that doesn't have to leave the field.
#Mizzou LB Nick Bolton is an enjoyable watch. As far as diagnosing, attacking, and finishing, he’s arguably the best second level defender in this class at that. The game vs. Alabama is a great snapshot of that.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) December 2, 2020
Outstanding at seeing pullers. pic.twitter.com/l5QOCuRoYr