We’re two years removed from the 2021 NFL Draft, but it’s safe to say already that it was a wildly successful draft for the Detroit Lions and for general manager Brad Holmes. It was Holmes’ first year as GM, and he was able to select a cornerstone prospect in offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick. He also nabbed Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round, which is turning out to be arguably the best steal in the draft.
Rank has the Lions picking current 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga with the seventh overall pick. Here is his reasoning:
Detroit broke out under Dan Campbell last season, but a defense that ranked 32nd overall (and 30th against the pass) held this team back. I can’t imagine how much better the Lions would have been with Hufanga in the secondary. The second-year safety was a first-team All-Pro for the 49ers last season.
So where did Penei Sewell rank? All the way down at the 24th pick to the Steelers.
I’m sorry, what?
Today’s Question of the Day is...
In a 2021 NFL re-draft, where would you slot Penei Sewell?
My answer: I think it’s obvious that if Sewell were still on the board in this fantasy exercise by the time the Lions were on the clock, the Lions would still take him. So let’s just get it out there right away that his floor is the seventh overall pick. Now, would he go even higher than that?
The first pick is still obvious. The Jaguars are going to take quarterback Trevor Lawrence all day, every day. No doubt about it. Rank at least got that one right. At No. 2, the Jets took Zach Wilson in the actual draft, and I don’t see them sticking with that pick here. In this exercise, Rank explains “the spirit of this exercise is to put the team in the spot it was in back in 2021.” I don’t know if that really makes a difference since they needed a QB then and they need a QB now. The Jets could take an actual elite player here with Micah Parsons or take a swing on one of Justin Fields or Mac Jones. I guess they’d go with Fields, probably? Unless they can finally pin down that Aaron Rodgers deal. I don’t know, this is actually tougher than I thought.
At No. 3, I’d have the 49ers going Patrick Surtain II. QB would be preferred but this class isn’t very good for QBs. I still feel gross putting Fields that high. Surtain II was graded as the second-best CB in the NFL last year behind Sauce Gardner. Don’t be afraid to take cornerbacks early, folks.
With the No. 4 overall pick, the Falcons steal Ja’Marr Chase away from the Bengals instead of sticking with tight end Kyle Pitts. The Bengals could go offensive line with Chase gone, but I’d say they take Jaylen Waddle instead as a pretty nice consolation prize. The Dolphins would have loved to have kept Waddle at six, but instead he’s off the board and they’ll settle for linebacker Micah Parsons. That leaves the Lions.
I’ve already said this is Sewell’s floor, but we are presented with an interesting choice where the Lions could go with the other offense tackle in Rashawn Slater here. Slater has actually outperformed Sewell in terms of overall PFF grades, but he did see his season end early in 2022 after rupturing a biceps tendon in Week 3. That’s enough concern for me to think the Lions would stick with Sewell and ensure that the offensive line continues to be the dominant force that it is.