The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the Detroit Lions have come away with a nice group of young prospects in general manager Brad Holmes’ inaugural go-around.
In saying that, it doesn’t mean every single selection made by Holmes was the route armchair GMs like myself would have gone.
Every draft enthusiast always has players he or she would have preferred. Important to note, there were medical check-ups, character concerns and other info that not everyone is privy to. Just for a fun exercise, this is the route I would have gone at the time of each Lions pick, if I had been calling the shots.
First round, No. 7 overall: OT Penei Sewell
No issue here. Sewell was the best prospect available at a premium position. Actually, I would have even taken Sewell before each of the last five players selected ahead of the former Ducks standout.
Second round, No. 41 overall: EDGE Azeez Ojulari
Ojulari was considered a potential first-round pick. Due to concerns about his knee, he slipped to the middle of the second round. Again, if I knew all the details regarding his health status, I may have also passed on the talented EDGE rusher.
Still, his ability to turn the corner and the bend in his game, you don’t often find players with his upside at this stage in the draft. He is more of a 3-4 rusher, and would have given the Lions a true pass-rush threat off the edge. Maybe he was just too big of a risk for Holmes, and it’s much easier for me to pull the trigger on a player with some knee issues than it is for a GM in rebuilding mode.
Third round, No. 72 overall: DL Milton Williams
Williams went one spot after the Lions selected Alim McNeill, and the Philadelphia Eagles were not all too happy about it. McNeill was their target, and the consolation prize was Williams. McNeill is more of a nose tackle, whereas Williams is more of a 3/5-tech defensive tackle. Both have some rare athleticism, but Williams is on another level. I loved the McNeill pick and still do. But, if I was responsible for turning in the card, Williams would have just slightly edged out McNeill for me.
Third round, No. 101 overall: LB Jabril Cox
Cox was a fan favorite for many. For such a long time, the Lions have had their fare share of struggles guarding the pass with their linebackers. Cox could have helped change that. He was one of the few true coverage linebackers in the entire draft. Unfortunately, as good as he is in pass defense, he is probably equally as bad against the run. However, in a passing league, Cox still could serve a very valuable role for an NFL team's defense, with the hopes of him developing into a better run defender.
Fourth round, No. 112 overall: DE Rashad Weaver
The news came out almost immediately following the draft that Weaver had some legal troubles -- another situation that likely pushed him further down the board for teams in the know. It was news to me, so I was left with Weaver as my personal selection at the time of the pick.
As a player, Weaver is on the older side, but has great burst and flexibility around the edge. Maybe it’s not an immediate need, but you can’t pass up skilled pass-rushers when the opportunity presents itself.
Fourth round, No. 113 overall: WR Jaelon Darden
Much like Holmes, I didn’t feel as if a wide receiver was ever truly the best player available at each of their draft spots. In other years with more on the line for the upcoming season, prioritizing holes on the roster may be the better move. In year one of a rebuild, Holmes can’t fill every position of need on the roster.
Darden is an electric slot receiver who has some special qualities to his game. Even though he is on the smaller side, he can do things others just can’t. At the same time, there are limitations. But, if you use him to his strengths, he can flourish.
Seventh round, No. 257 overall: OG Sadarius Hutcherson
This late in the draft, you are just taking chances on players, and more than likely are just securing one of your favorite undrafted free agents. With Hutcherson, he is an elite athlete who has tremendous potential. Some of his biggest issues are technique related, which are coachable. The Lions need a guard for the future, and selecting Hutcherson would have afforded him a little time to develop. There would've been no harm and no foul in taking the South Carolina product this late in the draft.