On Thursday night, general manager Brad Holmes and the rest of Detroit Lions brass made the pick. The safe pick, but the right pick.
That’s right, I said it: the right pick.
They wasted no time, turning the pick in shortly after the Lions were on the clock at No. 7 overall. After all the talk about Detroit entertaining trade offers for their first-round pick, and even learning about their interest in moving up for the No. 4 pick to select LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, the Lions stood pat and selected Oregon’s wunderkind Penei Sewell.
With a single pick, Holmes not only got incredible value, but he also addressed the Lions' biggest immediate need—right tackle—and now he has the opportunity to chip away at the remaining deficiencies on this roster.
Let’s take a look at how things might shake out on Day 2 of the draft.
This year, I’m using The Draft Network’s “Mock Draft Machine” to put together my drafts—and if you want to make trades as I did here, you’ll have to upgrade to their premium account.
[TRADE] Round 2, Pick 46: S Jevon Holland
Detroit receives picks 46 and 122
New England receives pick 41
So Detroit, as previously mentioned, crossed off their most immediate need by selecting Sewell to round out their starting offensive line. It’s truly a foundational unit where the average age of their starters is 24.4 years old. With the benefit of hindsight in hand, the way the draft board has shaken itself out sets up Detroit to be patient and look to add more picks in this year’s draft.
After moving back five spots with the Patriots, the Lions add a pick on Day 3—Detroit’s pick at 41 is valued at 146 points, New England’s packaged picks total 152 points. It isn’t much, but it’s worth moving back
The last time I checked, this is America. Where the roosters crow and cows spin circles in the pasture. What do ducks do? They fly together.
Oregon’s Jevon Holland is the top safety on the board here after TCU’s Trevon Moehrig went to the Philadelphia Eagles at pick No. 37. He’s got the athletic chops (scored a 9.52 RAS) and instincts to be an NFL starter from day one.
Holland’s a fantastic fit for the Lions, capable of playing the split safety role Detroit will implement this season after he showed the ability to line up all over the place at Oregon; deep safety, in the box, manning the slot, Holland was everywhere. An absolute ball-hawk—tallying nine interceptions over his freshman and sophomore seasons—Holland’s versatility makes him a great pick at a position of need for the Lions.
2019 AP @Pac12 All-Conference 2nd Team— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 26, 2021
9 Career Interceptions - 5 as a Freshman
Led @oregonfootball in Interceptions in Back-to-Back Seasons
Jevon Holland has all the natural instincts & versatility that is needed in the @NFL.#BackTheBack | #NFLDraft | @PacPremierBank pic.twitter.com/qnV86onL6m
Round 3, Pick 72: WR D’Wayne Eskridge
A fan favorite from Western Michigan, Eskridge is, in one word, explosive. He’s an absolute burner at the wideout position with the ability to turn any reception into something much, much more.
Just a little sample of what D'Wayne Eskridge has to offer. pic.twitter.com/wkzmTmKdTC— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 25, 2021
Eskridge runs an 8-yard comeback route, makes the catch with five Central Michigan defenders either parallel or further down the field than him, and then proceeds to outrun all of them for an 85-yard touchdown.
In 2019, Western experimented with Eskridge by putting him at cornerback, but a return to wide receiver for the 2020 season was clearly the right move—he scored eight touchdowns on just 34 receptions while averaging 23.1 yards per catch.
He’s undersized at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, a bit older at 24 years old, and he’s had problems with drops that still linger—but have improved since his freshman season. Questions remain about his ability to develop his route tree into more than just go routes, slants, and posts, but his tape at the Senior Bowl shows, when it works like it does, who cares?
Dude, D'Wayne Eskridge putting on a show against Cam Bynum pic.twitter.com/WodVZ2vKAj— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 27, 2021
Round 3, Pick 101: IDL Jay Tufele
Not a single interior defensive lineman was selected on Thursday, further cementing everyone’s belief that this class was especially weak at the top. Alabama’s Christian Barmore is at the top of that list and will likely get taken early in the second round, but with lots of skill position players, offensive linemen, and defensive backs still on the board as well, someone like Tufele is still prime to slip despite being a solid prospect.
I know I'm late, but I hope I will be welcomed to the Jay Tufele fan club pic.twitter.com/65f1YuSUfg— Tyler Forness (@TheRealForno) April 14, 2021
Here’s what I had to say when I selected Tufele with this very same pick in my mock draft earlier this month:
There’s a lot to like about adding a player like Jay Tufele to this defensive line, especially considering the value of getting him at 101. Tufele is a natural 3-tech that possesses the athleticism and strength to be an immediate factor in this single-gap, penetrating scheme Detroit is shifting to under Dan Campbell.
... Tufele’s production in college left something to be desired which is why he’s earning third and fourth-round grades from draft analysts. [He] opted out of the 2020 season, so after breaking out in his 2018 season and plateauing in terms of production in 2019 despite getting more opportunities, he didn’t have a chance to put some of those concerns to bed. Still, with his relentless motor and ability to attack and penetrate off the snap, Tufele’s traits project him to be a contributor on defense in the right scheme.