Every NFL Draft season, there is always certain prospects who draft enthusiasts like more than others. For the Detroit Lions, I have my “wants” for them, as well.
At this point in time, it’s still a little unclear as to how new Lions general manager Brad Holmes will attack his inaugural draft as an NFL GM.
While I’m still trying to understand exactly what the new regime will look for, I know there have been plenty of players who have caught my eye.
Here is my list of players who I would be more than happy with the Lions targeting -- and by round.
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon – I make sure to not throw the term “generational talent” around often. In this case, Sewell is just that. He is one of the best tackle prospects to come out of college in a long time. At a premium position, the 330-pound, 20-year-old is a player I would not pass on at No. 7 overall.
Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU – If Chase was just a couple inches taller, he would check every single box you look for at receiver. Still, even a 6-footer is plenty tall enough in today’s NFL.
I will add that teams can often find starting-quality receiver talent later in the draft and also in free agency. Chase’s potential to be a true difference-maker is unique, though.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State – I would like the Lions to build a roster, before deploying a rookie quarterback to maximize the rookie contract window. I’m not a fan of certain aspects of Fields' game, but those areas are coachable. However, as far as his traits, you don’t get many chances to take a guy like him.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida – I wouldn’t even label Pitts a tight end. He is the type of player the entire offense can be schemed around. No matter where he lines up, he will be a mismatch to whoever is covering him in the passing game.
The only real concern is that an offensive coordinator wouldn’t be flexible enough to find a way to truly play Pitts to his strengths – which is obviously not an indictment on Pitts.
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State – Yes, his character needs to be vetted. Yes, his coverage ability is still a relative unknown. Yes, the linebacker position isn’t great value in the top 10.
No matter the case, though, he has plenty of elite traits at a position of need. His ceiling is as high as almost anybody in the draft.
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss – Moore’s pure speed, ultra-reliable hands and ability to make defenders miss more than make up for his smaller stature.
Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky – Davis’ length and athletic profile project well to the next level. He could still stand to fill out his long frame a little more, but he is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker and a trustworthy tackler.
Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas – One of the most agile big men in the entire draft. Cosmi had the fastest 20-yard shuttle of any lineman I saw this year – a testament to his change-of-direction ability. He has experience at both left and right tackle in a pro-style offense at Texas.
Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech – Not saying Williams is Aaron Donald, but they are very similar in terms of all the measurables. The Lions need a gap shooter and someone who can beat OL one-on-one in the interior, and that’s exactly what Williams can provide.
Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston – Turner can turn the corner as a pass-rusher, has exceptional size and arm length and is a high-effort player. Moving to the edge from the inside his final year at Houston, he flashed his potential.
Jevon Holland, S, Oregon – The Lions need a playmaker on the backend. Even though Holland opted out of the 2020 season, he had nine interceptions between his true freshman and sophomore years, while playing between slot corner and deep safety. That’s some nice versatility with instincts.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU – It is tough to find a linebacker who can cover. There are not many in this draft class, but Cox is one of the few.
He is a smooth runner, which sometimes makes it seem like he isn’t very explosive on film. But, Cox has proven at the college level he can excel against the pass.
He also isn’t very physical or instinctive in the run game; hence, the reason he could still be available in the third round. In saying all of that, the Lions need a linebacker who can cover, and Cox could be that specialist.
Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh – I came away more impressed from the tape on Weaver than I did with the tape on his teammate Patrick Jones II, who had plenty of draft buzz going into 2020.
Weaver might not be an elite athlete on the edge – he only ran a 4.88 40-yard dash. However, the poor 40-yard dash time is not nearly as important as his elite 10-yard split and 3-cone time.
Alim McNeill, DT, N.C. State – McNeill predominantly played nose tackle with his 317-pound build, but he isn’t just a two-gapping, space-filler limited to playing against the run. He has enough burst and power to get to the passer, as well.
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Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford – Much like Holland, Adebo is a ballhawk who tested well and sat out the 2020 campaign. There are some footwork and technique issues he will need to work on, like most prospects at this stage in the draft. He is worth the risk in the mid-rounds.
Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M – Brown underwhelmed at Texas A&M, considering his God-given tools. There were times where Brown dominated and plenty of other times where it was the exact opposite. A lot of his flaws are sloppy technique and/or a cold motor.
In terms of pure traits at the position, it’s tough to find anyone better. He is one of the youngest players in the draft, and likely needs some time to develop. Truthfully, the Lions are in no rush to win this year anyway.
Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa – Smith would be considered a project, but possess all the tools. At 6-foot-6, 252 pounds, he has the length and athletic ability to develop into something. He may be more of a situational pass-rusher early in his career, due to him still needing to fill out his frame.
Robert Rochell, CB, Arkansas State – Much like Smith, Rochell is another small-school prospect who tests out like an NFL player. In the fourth round, it’s worth the risk to see what NFL coaching can do to clean up his game. He is a boom/bust type of prospect.
Stone Forsythe, OT, Florida – Forsythe has the versatility to play either left or right tackle. He isn’t the most powerful in the run game, but has the quick feet and length to be an asset in pass protection.
Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas – Darden is the quintessential slot receiver – which is a need for the Lions. The 5-foot-8 wideout is one of the most explosive players at the position, with the ability to make people miss and create separation.
Josh Kaindoh, EDGE, Florida State – Once again, Kaindoh is another player who should have dominated at the college level but didn’t for whatever reason. He has everything you would want in a defensive end, from a physical standpoint.
Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee – Palmer could have been selected much higher, if he had a little better quarterback play. He may not be the most flashy or have one truly special trait. However, he is a very sound receiver who catches the ball well with his hands, possesses great body control and knows how to adjust to passes -- eerily similar to a couple of former Lions wideouts who left in free agency this year.
Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech – It’s fair to say running back isn’t a need for the Lions. Still, Herbert would be great value for the future. Possessing a depth back, with three-down ability and size, is never a bad thing.
Caden Sterns, S, Texas – As a freshman, Sterns looked like a future star. The last two years, though, were disappointing for the junior. He tested out much better than I thought he would, which means he is a good athlete but maybe not as instinctive as you’d like. Take a bet on some coaching to bring out the best in him.
Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas – Marshall is a pretty solid all-around tackle, with some juice in the tank. His explosion numbers were off the charts for a man his size.
Perhaps his biggest flaws are conditioning and being reliable the entire game. Nothing a little NFL strength and conditioning can’t fix, right?
Gerrid Doaks, RB, Cincinnati
Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State
B.J. Emmons, RB, Florida Atlantic
Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State
Trevon Grimes, WR, Florida
Dax Milne, WR, BYU
Sadarius Hutcherson, OG, South Carolina
Larry Borom, OL, Missouri
William Bradley-King, EDGE, Baylor
Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
Ta'Quon Graham, DT, Texas
Buddy Johnson, LB, Texas A&M
Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati
Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois
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