Skip to main content

2021 NFL Draft Primer for Detroit Lions

Read more on the 2021 NFL Draft primer for the Detroit Lions

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is set to kick off this Thursday night, with the remaining rounds taking place on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. 

The Detroit Lions have a total of six selections, with plenty of areas of need. New Lions general manager Brad Holmes will have his work cut out for him. 

Yes, he added some talent via free agency, but almost all of the contracts given out were one-year deals. That leaves the door wide open in the first year of a rebuild, as to which route the Lions will take in the first round. 

2020 Lions record: 5-11 (fourth place in NFC North) 

Key additions

  • QB Jared Goff
  • WR Tyrell Williams 
  • WR Breshad Perriman 
  • RB Jamaal Williams 
  • DT Michael Brockers 

Key losses

  • QB Matthew Stafford 
  • WR Kenny Golladay 
  • WR Marvin Jones Jr. 
  • LB Reggie Ragland 
  • CB Desmond Trufant  

2021 draft picks

  • Round 1 -- No. 7 overall 
  • Round 2 -- No. 41
  • Round 3 -- No. 72
  • Round 3 -- No. 101 
  • Round 4 -- No. 112 
  • Round 5 -- No. 153 

Team needs

Safety - The Lions really only have one starting-quality safety on their roster -- Tracy Walker. Walker didn’t have a great 2020 season by any means, either. Now, there isn’t a safety worth a top-10 pick in this year's draft, but fortunately, Holmes has shown he can find quality at the position later in the draft. 

Wide receiver - Gone are Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola. Looking at the long-term future, the Lions only have Quintez Cephus on a contract past this season. There is a good chance the Lions could even double up at the position when it’s all said and done. 

Defensive tackle - After switching to a new defensive scheme, all of the two-gapping defensive tackles the Lions had on their roster no longer fit what the new coaching staff wants to do. This isn’t a very deep class for interior D-linemen, but there are a few options in the middle rounds who have shown some promise at getting to the quarterback. 

Linebacker - Jamie Collins and newcomer Alex Anzalone appear to be the starters, as of now. Collins is an aging veteran, and Anzalone has an injury history while only being on a one-year contract. 

Much like the defensive tackles, the new scheme will ask the linebackers to play a much different style of game. On a positive note, the new scheme allows the Lions to prioritize more athleticism at the position. 

Offensive line - The left side of the line is in good shape. However, the right side is filled with question marks. Halapoulivaati Vaitai appears to be the starting guard at this time. Considering his price tag, he will firmly be in the cap casualty discussion next season. 

At right tackle, Tyrell Crosby has been a solid swing tackle, but the jury is still out on if he is a reliable starter for the future. On top of that, Crosby’s rookie contract will be up after 2021. 

Top targets

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

If there is a run on quarterbacks, there is a very realistic chance that the top non-quarterback prospect could fall into the Lions’ lap. At a premium position, the 20-year-old would not only be the best player available on the board, but he would also fill a need. 


Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

The receiver position is one of the more relatively easy positions to find, but Chase looks to be special. There are not really any holes in Chase’s game, and he has some great potential. Chase would set the Lions up with their No. 1 wideout for the future. 

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Forget the tight end label, Pitts is a unicorn. He does things others can't. The goal this year for the Lions will be to draft an elite playmaker at any position, and Pitts fits the bill at tight end. 


Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

There are some reports out there that there a couple of teams who have Slater as the top offensive tackle available. He has the athleticism, the film and the character to warrant a top-10 pick. 

The one concern is Slater's shorter arms, which is why a switch to guard could be in his future. 

USATSI_10389593_168388382_lowres (1)

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

It's unusual to have a quarterback of Fields' caliber fall to pick No. 7. The Lions may not be chomping at the bit to find a quarterback this season, though. 

At the very least, Holmes should strongly consider selecting Fields. At the end of the day, there would likely be some attractive trade-down offers that would be tough to pass up.


How to watch 2021 NFL Draft 

  • Thurs, April 29 (8-11:30 p.m. ET): Round 1 -- ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
  • Fri, April 30 (7-11:30 p.m.): Rounds  2 and 3 -- ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
  • Sat, May 1 (12-7 p.m.): Rounds 4–7 – ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
  • Online/Streaming: Watch ESPNYouTube TVNFL appHulu Live TVSling TV,  fuboTV 

More from SI All Lions:

Best-Case Scenarios for Detroit Lions in 2021 NFL Draft

Brad Holmes: Rams 'Beach House Looks Really Great'

Roundtable: How Many Productive Players Will Lions Draft?

Detroit Lions Not Locked Into No. 7 Pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Plan A: 3 First-Round Picks in 2022 NFL Draft