Mel Kiper and Todd McShay get most of the attention as ESPN’s draft analysts, but there is a third member of the team: Jordan Reid. Hired last November, Reid’s draft roots were most recently at The Draft Network, where he established himself as one of the sharpest minds in the draft community.
With the first selection, Reid follows a growing trend of pairing the Jacksonville Jaguars with an offensive tackle, and he selects Alabama’s Evan Neal. That puts the Lions on the clock with two stud EDGE rushes available, and Reid projects...
Pick No. 2: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
“The Lions are right on track in their rebuild, but they still have several holes to fill,” Reid explains. “In this scenario, they’d get their choice of either of the class’ top defensive ends. They could bet on the raw talent of Thibodeaux, who has more upside than the polished Aidan Hutchinson. Detroit has to strengthen its defensive line, and it has the early picks to do so.”
The debate between Thibodeaux and Hutchinson rolls along, and with over two months before the draft, it will probably continue through April.
If you were looking for the Lions to land a quarterback in the first round, it’s worth noting that Reid has four selected between this pick and Detroit’s next selection. Fresh off strong Senior Bowl performances, Malik Willis (pick No. 6) and Kenny Pickett (No. 11) are the first two off the board to Carolina and Washington respectively. Matt Corral goes off the board next (No. 18), with Sam Howell (No. 20) the last signal-caller taken in the first round.
The Lions have a lot of different ways they could go with their second first-round pick and Reid elects to flip over to the other side of the ball and grab another instant impact player...
Pick No. 32: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn. State
“The Lions got a fourth-round steal in Amon-Ra St. Brown last year, and he proved to be a key player for the team moving forward,” Reid wrote. “Outside of St. Brown and tight end T.J. Hockenson, however, the franchise lacks reliable pass-catchers. Dotson is a “Z” receiver who can handle outside duties while St. Brown does his best work from the slot. Dotson, who had 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, is a consistent route-runner with a wide catch radius. He’d be a great fit for Detroit and quarterback Jared Goff.”
Jahan Dotson showcases gear/throttle control! He isn’t just a smooth and crafty route runner.— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) December 22, 2021
He has the speed to outrun defensive angles. He’s a former 100, 200, and 4x100 champion! pic.twitter.com/55hhAGFYK8
As Reid mentions, Dotson is likely a WR-Z (outside receiver, typically an elite athlete) but he can also play in the slot, which mirrors the skill set of St. Brown. Combining the two would give the Lions some interchangeable positional flexibility that would make it very difficult for defenses to play matchup football.
The Jaguars get the next selection, then the Lions are back on the clock again and this time Reid gives the Lions a local prospect...
Pick No. 34: Daxton Hill, Safety, Michigan
“Tracy Walker, Dean Marlowe and C.J. Moore are all set to become free agents, and the Lions’ safety room is bare entering the offseason,” Reid assessed. “Hill is a versatile safety with plenty of potential to unlock. After playing strictly in the slot for the Wolverines, he could be used in different ways at the next level. The Detroit secondary just needs more playmakers; hopefully it can get back healthy Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft who has played only 10 games in two seasons. And if you’re keeping track, the Lions end up with two starters on defense and a wideout with their three top-34 picks.”
Four different ways #Michigan S/NB Daxton Hill impacts the game.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 15, 2021
- Makes a terrific read in zone coverage on a seam, shows off ball skills.
- Defeats a block on screen, makes TFL.
- Shot out of cannon in run game
- Excellent man coverage to seal game.
Hill would be the Lions' version of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn developed into a stud defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. Hill started at safety all three years at Michigan, playing mostly single-high as a freshman, then expanding his game to include reps at outside corner and in the slot. With projected 4.3 speed, Hill is a matchup weapon that can mirror any style of offensive player (receiver, slot, tight end, running back) lined up across from him. Like Dotson on offense, Hill would give the Lions massive positional flexibility and would allow them to match up with offensives without needing to change personnel.