With the NFL Draft only a couple of months away, the big boards are starting to take shape.
For the Detroit Lions, they only have six picks, and need to add talent at just about every area on the roster.
Fortunately, with limited expectations in year one of the new regime, they won’t need to reach for any one position, and should add talent regardless of where the player lines up.
Naturally, it's time for my first seven-round mock draft of 2021 for the Lions.
*The Draft Network mock draft simulator
First round - Pick No. 7
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
With the Lions' first pick, the board pretty much fell as expected. If you wanted a quarterback, Trey Lance was available. At receiver, both Alabama wideouts -- DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle -- were still an option, as well. Ultimately, I didn’t love any of the options. With Lance being a quarterback, he carries the most value, and hopefully, the Lions would be able -- if they desired -- to trade back with a QB-needy team.
Still, I had to make the pick, and I ended up choosing the top defender available. The Parsons buzz has been dwindling the past couple of months, and I realize that off-ball linebacker is not a premium position. However, the receiver market is just becoming so saturated that I don’t think decent wideouts are very difficult to find. If it wasn’t Parsons, I would have chosen one of the three following pass-catchers: Waddle, Florida's Kyle Pitts or Smith. To me, Parsons was the most complete prospect of the players available. Outside of limited experience in man coverage, Parsons has shown he can do it all at an elite level.
Second round - Pick No. 41
Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
In the second round, the 2020 Jim Thorpe Award winner and top safety prospect was still available.
The 6-foot-2 junior is listed as a safety, but he played a ton in the box and as a slot corner in TCU’s quarters defensive alignment.
Not only has Moehrig led the nation in pass breakups the last two seasons for safeties, he has the physicality to be a very well-rounded player.
He may not have the range of a true single-high free safety, but Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn utilized plenty of two-deep safety looks while in New Orleans.
The Lions need playmakers, and Moehrig fits the bill.
Yes, Detroit has two young safeties already on the roster. But, Will Harris has shown little promise, and Tracy Walker is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 season.
Third round - Pick No. 72
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
If Cox were still to be on the board in the third round, even after drafting Parsons, he should be the pick. The Lions need a complete overhaul in the linebackers department, and pairing Cox and Parsons would be an exciting duo for the future. Both extremely athletic, Cox’s strengths come in covering the pass, whereas Parsons does his best work against the run.
The North Dakota State transfer has length and agility, but is a little on the lighter side. In today’s NFL, those flaws can be overlooked, as long as he can be impactful enough against the pass.
Third round - Pick No. 88
Alim McNeill, IDL, NC State
For the longest time, it feels as if the Lions have had no real threats who can win the one-on-ones along the interior defensive line.
McNeill has some impressive explosion and agility for a 320-pounder. Even with his impressive get-off, he is more of a nose tackle who excels against the run, holds his own against double teams and can push the pocket. If he can develop a little more of a plan when rushing the passer, instead of bull-rushing almost every time, McNeill could be a very complete player.
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Fourth round - Pick No. 112
Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
Having a player like Wallace fall to the Lions in the fourth round made me feel a little better about passing on one of the top wideouts in the first. Again, the value in the mid-rounds at receiver always seems to be the best of any position.
Wallace is a similar size to Waddle and Smith, and has had some of the best production in the class. Despite not being the biggest wideout at 5-foot-11, Wallace plays a lot bigger, and consistently wins contested catches. You could try to line him up in the slot more to mitigate press coverage, but he did his best work on the outside while at Oklahoma State.
At this stage in the draft, there are always concerns with every prospect. For Wallace, his limited route tree and difficulties beating press coverage are his question marks.
No matter the case, though, Wallace is an explosive player and a playmaker that may need some refinement in the nuances of route-running.
Fifth round - Pick No. 154
Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas
Once again, in a loaded receiver class, the best value landed on one of the top slot options this draft has to offer.
Facing relatively weak competition and standing at only 5-foot-9, the trepidations regarding Darden are pretty obvious.
Darden’s elite agility should be able to translate to the next level, though. His 23 forced missed tackles in 2020 are the most for any wideout in the draft.
At the very least, Darden can be a gadget type of player who has the speed to be a deep threat, as well.