Mock draft season is officially upon us at SI All Lions.
The Lions now possess six total picks, including two third-rounders, in the 2021 NFL Draft, after trading longtime franchise passer Matthew Stafford to the L.A. Rams Saturday night.
New Detroit general manager Brad Holmes will make his first selection of the draft at No. 7 overall.
Here is my initial Lions-specific three-round mock draft this year.
First round, No. 7 overall: Penn State LB Micah Parsons
The Lions are in desperate need of an impact linebacker going into this April's NFL Draft.
I think they address the void with pick No. 7 by taking Penn State product Micah Parsons.
Parsons, who opted out of playing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for the 2021 draft, finished the 2019 campaign with 109 total tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and five passes defensed.
For his efforts, he garnered a myriad of accolades, including being named a consensus All-American by the NCAA, being selected to the Associated Press All-America first team and becoming the first sophomore in Big Ten history to win the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award.
He'd be a slam-dunk selection for Detroit at No. 7 overall.
Second round, No. 41 overall: Western Michigan WR D'Wayne Eskridge
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder just finished off a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
His draft stock is on the rise as a result, and he reportedly could now be a late first-rounder, according to ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay.
The speedster is coming off a season in which he hauled in 33 balls for 768 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. His season-best performance was a 212-yard, three-touchdown outing against Central Michigan.
In five seasons at Western Michigan, he accumulated 121 catches for 2,244 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also returned 17 kicks for 467 yards and a score in 2020.
With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola all set to be free agents this offseason, Eskridge could emerge onto the scene rather quickly as one of new Lions quarterback Jared Goff's go-to targets.
It makes the Western Michigan product an intriguing option for Holmes & Co. at No. 41 overall.
Third round, No. 72 overall: Houston EDGE Payton Turner
Just as was the case going into last year's draft, Detroit direly needs to upgrade its pass-rushing unit -- especially with the uncertainty surrounding impending free-agent defensive end Romeo Okwara's fate with the team.
Enter the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Turner.
In just five games in 2020, the University of Houston product produced 25 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble.
It earned him second-team All-American Athletic Conference honors, and as a result, he's seen his draft stock improve in recent weeks.
He brings with him the necessary size and explosiveness to line up as an EDGE defender and to play on the interior occasionally in a 4-3 defense -- which is likely to be the base defense deployed by new Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.
It makes Turner a perfect fit for Detroit's defense in 2021.
Third round, No. 89 overall (acquired from the Rams in the Stafford trade): Oklahoma State CB Rodarius Williams
Along with the Lions upgrading their pass-rushing department and linebackers group, they must also address their woes in the secondary via this year's draft.
This is where I think the organization will do so, and if I were Holmes, I would take Oklahoma State product Rodarius Williams.
Williams, the older brother of Cleveland Browns cornerback Greedy Williams, is currently projected to be taken in the mid-late third round, according to NFL Mock Draft Database.
This would make Rodarius available for Detroit to snatch up at this point in the draft.
He finished his four-year career at Oklahoma State with 169 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 27 passes defensed and one forced fumble.
In 2020, he accounted for the fourth-best coverage snaps played per catch allowed ratio (24.0 snaps played/catch) among outside CBs, according to Pro Football Focus.
Additionally, he finished the '20 campaign as the only Power 5 player with at least 400 snaps played and zero missed tackles.
Williams certainly played at a high level in his final season with the Cowboys, and he'd be a great value pick for the Lions at No. 89 overall.
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