On Sunday night, the Detroit Lions debuted their highly-anticipated behind-the-scene video of the 2021 NFL Draft. It featured plenty of war room footage from draft weekend, along with interviews of Lions head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes, and pre-draft videos of the scouting process inside Allen Park.
If you haven’t already, you should watch the entire video here. You could also watch my live reaction to the video over on our Twitch page.
Either way, here are my eight favorite moments from the 37-minute video.
Lions party after Jaylen Waddle was picked
Back in May, Dan Campbell joined SiriusXM radio to talk about his draft experience. While we all saw the Lions’ war room go crazy after taking Penei Sewell, Campbell said we missed when the real party started.
“If you would have seen the clip when (Jaylen) Waddle, when we saw it come across the ticker, you would have thought the opponent just whiffed a field goal, missed it and you win the game,” Campbell said.
Sure enough, this video provided that moment when Waddle went to the Dolphins just before the Lions’ pick. While it appears Detroit didn’t think Miami was going to take Sewell, they were concerned a team may jump them, even mentioning they believed the Minnesota Vikings were in the market for a tackle (They were right. The Vikings took Christian Darrisaw 23rd overall).
In the end, Sewell was there and both Holmes and assistant GM Ray Agnew were running and hugging all around the room.
“Could it have worked any better, my friend?” Campbell said to Agnew as they hugged for the third time.
While we didn’t get many specifics on which teams they were trying to trade with, what offers were on the table, and what prospect they may have been targeting, there were a few potential trade moments that didn’t end up happening revealed during the video.
The first came right there in the first round. Holmes took a call at 8:56 p.m. ET—right around when the Bengals took Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth pick—and told the unknown party on the other line that they were staying put. It’s clear Detroit had two players they were prepared to take: Sewell or someone else who was never named.
As Day 2 was beginning, it was again clear the Lions knew who they wanted and turned down some trade talks.
“I called Terry and Chris, and told them we’re staying put.”
That clip was presented as a possible trade up when the Lions were getting antsy about picking Levi Onwuzurike, which means they may have been talking to Falcons GM Terry Fontenot who had pick 35. Chris could have either been Dolphins GM Chris Grier (Pick 36) or Colts GM Chris Ballard, but the Colts didn’t have a pick until late in the second round. The former seems more likely.
Later, As the Lions were preparing to take Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu with pick 101, we see Holmes on the phone with another team and says, “Move down to 130?” At the time, the team that held that pick was the Jacksonville Jaguars (though they eventually traded out of it with the Rams).
It didn’t seem like the conversation was very long, as Campbell quickly butted in.
“Tell him two future ones (first-round picks).“
It’s clear they wanted Melifonwu bad, as evidenced by Holmes’ earlier comment that he was sticking out like a sore thumb on their big board.
Brad Holmes assures Sheila Ford Hamp they’ll grab a WR
After the Lions surprisingly went back-to-back defensive tackles, team owner Sheila Ford Hamp had a question for Holmes.
“What do we do if we don’t get a receiver out of the draft?”
It was a fair question and one many Lions fans were curious about themselves after Day 2. Without hesitation, though, Holmes answered, acknowledging that things were pretty much going according to plan.
“Well, we’ll still look at all of those receivers,” Holmes said, pointing to a list of players off screen. “You know, we still have the USC kid and all of those kids. So we’ll still be in a position to get one because of the depth at that position. Because here, (Alim) McNeill is the only real nose tackle.”
He had a plan. It worked.
Amon-Ra St. Brown gets a call from Magic Johnson
Speaking of that “USC kid,” after the Lions finally took a wide receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown, the fourth-round pick got a call from a Michigan sports legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Right after the Lions picked him, Amon-Ra St. Brown got a congratulatory phone call from Magic Johnson. pic.twitter.com/PsKo2rw9dy— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) June 14, 2021
Had to be a cool moment for the young kid.
Dan Campbell being a goofball
Without a doubt, Dan Campbell stole the show every time he showed up on camera. Whether he was trying to figure out how to use the phone, using Jedi mind tricks to make sure Ifeatu Melifonwu wasn’t going to get drafted before Detroit was on the clock, or just dancing like no one was watching when they drafted a guy they liked, he was entertaining the entire time.
Here are just a few GIFs of Campbell’s best moments:
Dan Campbell--and I can't think of any other way to put this--getting jiggy with it after drafting Jermar Jefferson. pic.twitter.com/6oHybB0yFN— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) June 14, 2021
Undrafted rookie signing insight
While these behind-the-scenes videos are becoming popular for every NFL franchise, one moment of draft weekend still isn’t typically covered: the hecticness of the undrafted signing process. The Lions finally gave us some insight into that at the end of the video, as we saw the likes of Mike Disner, John Dorsey, and others frantically try to acquire just a few of hundreds of players that didn’t get drafted.
It was particularly cool to see how supportive both Campbell and Holmes were when someone landed a player they wanted.
“Dis!,” Holmes yelled to Disner after wrapping up a phone call. “Good job! Good job!”
Then we saw an off-screen voice credit John Dorsey with signing center Drake Jackson, to which Dorsey replied, “No, you did it. I just closed it.”
That cooperation in the front office seems to be working for now.
One of the neater parts of the video was when the Lions flashed back to conversations the team was having about these prospects well before they drafted them. That included specific Zoom calls with the players themselves. We got to see offensive line coach Hank Fraley talk to Sewell. We saw St. Brown break down his own tape to Lions coaches, and we saw certain scouts really go to bat for some of these players. It’s all just a small piece of how long and arduous the entire draft process is.
“I love we’re getting players that we love”
The main takeaway from this video was that the Lions truly got the guys they wanted. We saw from the video that they were planning to get some of these guys well before they did. Sewell was obviously one of their top choices, but we also heard Levi Onwuzurike’s name mentioned by Holmes in Day 1—matching his claim to the press that they considered moving up for him.
Later, we heard Holmes mention specifically “that USC kid,” referring to St. Brown a full day before they drafted him. And it was clear at the beginning of Day 3, the plan was to go get him and Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes.
Eventually, Campbell just couldn’t keep it inside.
“Dude, I love we’re getting players that we love. We are getting players we absolutely love.”