We are just over a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft and analysts are publishing their final mock drafts ahead of the big event. ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay joined up for a co-mock draft, alternating selections and projecting all 105 picks in the first three rounds.
Kiper was assigned the odd numbers, so that means he was making the call when the Detroit Lions were on the clock at No. 7 overall.
“We needed a trade for a quarterback — they happen every year — so I’m going to make one with myself since I’m the general manager of the odd-numbered teams,” Kiper said. “This deal sees the Patriots jump eight spots to get their guy, while the Lions add the Patriots’ second-round pick (No. 46), plus future selections, maybe even their first-rounder in next year’s draft. It’s a lot to give up, but Bill Belichick & Co. need a long-term solution at the game’s most important position.”
Dropping to pick No. 15 for No. 46 overall this year and a high pick in 2023, is a solid deal, even if it’s not a first-rounder given in the trade. Kiper gave Alabama QB Mac Jones to the Patriots at No. 7, and when the Lions were on the clock at No. 15, he went defense.
Kiper’s pick at No. 15: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State. “Detroit trades down to pick up extra assets and still gets an impact defensive player. Parsons is a playmaker who will run down tailbacks and pitch in as a pass-rusher.”
Parsons is the second defensive player off the board in this draft—CB Patrick Surtain II went to the Dallas Cowboys with pick No. 10—and if his off the field questions check out, this is a nice value pick. For more on Parsons, be sure and check out Jeremy Reisman’s scouting report on him.
As the mock moves to the second round, the Lions hold pick No. 41 (their original) and pick No. 46 (which they acquired from the Patriots).
Kiper made the call at No. 41 and gave the Lions Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina: “Since Detroit’s trade down took them out of the running for the top-tier wideouts, let’s add Brown to a barren depth chart. He averaged 20 yards per catch in each of the past two seasons.”
Brown is a downfield threat reminiscent of Marvin Jones Jr. but with a tick more ability to separate due to his above-average athleticism. His ability to win off the line of scrimmage in a variety of ways will help him find the field as a starter early in his career.
McShay gets his first shot to pair the Lions with a player at pick No. 46, and he went back to the defensive side of the ball, giving Detroit Joe Tryon EDGE, Washington: “I liked seeing Romeo Okwara return to the Lions, but I want to see a whole lot more off the edge. Tryon can play both defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker.”
Tryon played a hybrid EDGE role at Washington and in Detroit he figures to play on the edge opposite Romeo Okwara, and likely splitting reps with last year’s third-rounder Julian Okwara. Tryon burst onto the scene as a sophomore but after opting out of his junior year (2020) he’s not quite a finished product. Another year in the Pac-12 would have made him a likely first-rounder in 2022, but his talent warrants a top-50 selection in this year’s class.
At the top of the third round, McShay is still calling the shots for the Lions, and with pick No. 72, he gives Detroit Jevon Holland, safety, Oregon: “The Lions’ defense has a “Help Wanted” sign on most positions, and Holland is a ball hawk who can even drop down and line up over the slot.”
This is a fantastic pick, and mirrors my strategy in the POD community mock draft, by targeting a starting safety at this spot. I selected Indiana safety Jamar Johnson with my selection—he went at pick No. 99 in this mock—but I would be just as ecstatic to land Holland at this spot. Holland can play deep, in the slot, has terrific ball skills, and is an instant starter in Detroit.
Back to Kiper for pick No. 101 near the end of the third round, and he selected Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA: “The 5-foot-8 Felton played both running back and receiver for the Bruins, and he averaged 165.8 all-purpose yards in 2020. The Lions just need to add talent. He’d likely play slot receiver in Detroit.”
This one is a reach for me. Felton was a terrific college weapon but he lacks athleticism for the slot (RAS = 1.06), and if the Lions want a slot receiver, why not take one of the plethoras of them in this class instead of asking a running back who played in the slot part-time in college to play in the slot full time in the NFL? Can Felton eventually play slot in the NFL? Maybe. I’m not ruling it out, but at the end of the third round, I want a sure thing, not a developmental question mark—give me D’Wayne Eskridge, slot WR, Western Michigan, who was still available.