The Detroit Lions are in full rebuild mode and all options are on the table in this upcoming draft.
New general manager Brad Holmes sent former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to the L.A. Rams for Jared Goff and first-round draft picks in 2022 and 2023. He has purged the roster of bloated contracts and absorbed a massive amount of dead cap that will disappear in 2022. He elected to let almost all of Detroit’s top free agents depart for other teams—save Romeo Okwara—and replaced them with players on one-year contracts looking to prove themselves.
While the majority of the Lions’ roster capital is invested in the future, Holmes will be looking to add a base of talent via the draft. With long-term needs at wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker, defensive back, and potentially quarterback, Holmes will be looking to add the best player available regardless of position.
Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit is here to find the best player for the Lions in our annual SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. With the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL writers’ mock draft, the Detroit Lions select Penei Sewell, offensive tackle, Oregon. From Reisman:
This was a tough choice between grabbing the best pass catcher on the board or getting who I believe to be the best player still available. While the Lions certainly have a bigger need at wide receiver after letting Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. leave in free agency, this is a team in full rebuild. At this phase in team building, it’s all about amassing talent.
Sewell is arguably a top-five player in this draft, and he’ll be the missing piece in Detroit’s offensive line. The Lions can start Sewell at right tackle in his rookie season and have one of the more formidable offensive lines in the league. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn is going to love having that final piece to finally establish the run in Detroit and lighten the load off of Jared Goff’s shoulders.
Analysis: Sewell is the top player available on the board, and he also fills a need both short and long-term. Adding Sewell to Taylor Decker gives the Lions bookend offensive tackles through the 2024 season and is a big step in the right direction towards giving Goff—or the next quarterback—a clean pocket to operate out of.
Still just 20 years old, Sewell already possesses a rare combination of size, strength, and instincts for the position, while he has yet to hit his developmental ceiling. His balance, ability to set a quick anchor, and pattern matching techniques will make him very valuable in the passing game. While his toughness, foot quickness, and ability to hit his reach blocks will make him an asset in the running game. There are minor nuances of his game that still need to improve, but he is a plug-and-play starter.
Top prospects remaining:
- Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
- Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
- Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
- Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech