It is that time of the year. It is like Christmas morning in late April. It is time for the NFL Draft, and the question is: What will the Detroit Lions do at No. 7 overall and with their five other picks?
Here is my Lions-oriented 2021 mock draft.
First round, No. 7 overall: Rashawn Slater, LT, Northwestern
Slater is the next great left tackle in the National Football League. A technician who excels equally at pass pro and at paving the way for runners. And, by the way, Slater has GREAT feet. He looks like a big, dancing ballerina out there.
One of those 10-15 multiple-Pro Bowl types who handled Chase Young in 2019 and may be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
Move Taylor Decker, Detroit's current starting left tackle, after the draft for that star receiver.
Second round, No. 41 overall: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
Safety is a big need in Detroit. Safety was the Achilles' heel of the Lions' defense in 2020. The team needs guys back there with a lot more desire and a lot more ability.
Cisco instantly would become Detroit's best safety the moment he first tries on his helmet. He's a real ball-hawk (13 interceptions and 14 passes defensed from 2018-20) who can roll down hill into the box and attack.
CBS Sports has the Giants grabbing him at No. 42. But, that will not happen if Detroit can "intercept" him with pick No. 41.
Third round, No. 72 overall: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
Nasty and mean. Linebacker is another one of those huge needs to address, if Detroit hopes to win.
There is a chance Davis slips into this range, because he did not play at the biggest of college programs. And, if he does drop this far, he instantly becomes the Lions' best linebacker.
Davis brings a real edge, and has a little Lawrence Taylor in him, in terms of his attitude. Davis is a hitter with a capital "H." He brings the kind of demeanor and physicality that the Detroit linebacking unit is desperately in need of.
Third round, No. 101 overall (via trade with the L.A. Rams): Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
If Slaton is still there when the Lions pick, they have got to go and get this guy. Slaton plays like a heavyweight fighter. He keeps coming at his opponent every single snap, and he never backs down or lets up. It is hit, hit, hit, play after play.
Slaton is the player you want to be the first one off the bus, and he is the type of player who will set the tone for the entire defensive line. Not the most productive in terms of stats, but do not let that fool you.
This guy is a difference-maker who can collapse the pocket. Slaton also effectively fights off blockers to make stops laterally. This guy is a baller.
Fourth round, No. 112 overall: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
The Lions reach into their own backyard to grab this guy. Detroit would be getting a poor man's version of Jaylen Waddle and a steal in the draft.
I had a second-third-round grade on him, and it appears that he is slipping on boards due to the depth at receiver in this draft.
CBS Sports projects him to slip all the way to pick No. 134, which belongs to the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, I think Detroit might have different traveling plans for him.
An opt-out in 2020, he recorded 37 receptions, 729 yards, seven TDs and a 19.7 yards-per-catch average in 2019. To put that into perspective, not one of the top-50 NFL receivers had that high of a yards-per-catch average in 2020.
Collins is a big, tough target who excels after the catch and on deep routes. Good jumping and timing on 50-50 balls. He will go up and get it.
Fifth round, No. 153 overall: Landon Young, RT, Kentucky
Lightning strikes twice in the "Bluegrass State." Detroit's offensive line would look really good with Slater, Young, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Tyrell Crosby would be the odd man out.
If the Lions could go get Young, suddenly they very well could have the best offensive line in the NFC North, and that would go a long way toward winning the division.
Young's a left tackle who doesn't have the fastest foot speed, but he does have the balance, coordination and athletic ability to transition to the right side. On runs, he holds the point and controls well. Wins most of his battles and even pancakes sometimes. Moves around well on the perimeter, and is competitive in pass protection. Good usage of hands, and extends arms well.
Young looks like a diamond in the rough, and he is exactly the type of player Lions head coach Dan Campbell will love.
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