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5 Late-Round Linebackers Lions Could Target in 2021 NFL Draft

Read more on five late-round linebackers the Detroit Lions could target in the 2021 NFL Draft

Dan Campbell has made it clear that his Detroit Lions will be built around toughness and physicality.  

And with that commitment to toughness comes a need to overhaul a defense that set a franchise record for points allowed last season. It’s safe to assume that the Lions will use the NFL Draft to accumulate pieces to begin rebuilding that defense. 

One position the Lions desperately needed help at last season was linebacker, a position that there are plenty of options available at in this year’s draft.  

Though Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah dominate the headlines, there are plenty of other options that the Lions could snag later, should the organization elect to use the early part of the draft on offensive skill players.  

Here are five linebackers the Lions could target in the later rounds of the NFL Draft: 

Cam McGrone, Michigan

Consensus draft range: Late day two-early day three 

McGrone is a skilled inside linebacker who was able to show extended flashes of potential while at Michigan. The problem here is that he only did so for a year and a half, logging just 19 games at the college level.  

McGrone dealt with injuries last season, limiting his production. However, he’s certainly going to be hungry to start his professional career, and he spoke about his versatility and ability to play both the MIKE and WILL positions during his pro day media session.  

Ernest Jones, South Carolina 

Consensus draft range: Day three 

Jones is an early entrant, albeit one with plenty of experience. 

At South Carolina, he was named team MVP in 2020 and a member of the fourth-team All-SEC squad. Sure, the recognition is enticing, but he has the numbers to back up any attention he receives. 

Jones is a hitter. He totaled 57 solo tackles in nine games, including a career-high 19 against LSU. He received an 83.0 tackling grade from Pro Football Focus, which is the highest of his team. 

He’s not great in coverage, but could be a good run-stopper or niche-type player that brings value.  

Pete Werner, Ohio State

Consensus draft range: Day three 

In Werner, a team will get a physical, versatile linebacker who can play in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. 

New Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said he plans to be multi-dimensional, and Werner fits that school of thinking perfectly.  

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Unlike the previous two, Werner is a guy who has carved out a reliable reputation over the course of four seasons with the Buckeyes. He doesn’t get the attention that his teammates, Baron Browning and Tuf Borland, get, but is certainly reliable and could be a good get early on day three. 

K.J. Britt, Auburn

Consensus draft range: Day three 

Britt is another four-year guy who made his mark in the SEC. In his first full year as a starter in 2019, Britt was named first-team All-SEC. He suffered a hand injury and played just two games in 2020, but there is plenty of upside still existent. 

He made 23 tackles in his two games in 2020. A knock on him is the fact that he has only 2019, in terms of eye-popping statistics. But, he has shown the ability to be a solid run-stopper. 

Before his injury, he was on watch lists for several different awards, and he was a preseason All-American.  

Dylan Moses, Alabama

Consensus draft range: Late day two-early day three 

Moses had all the attention and potential in the world, coming out of IMG Academy. He landed at Alabama, and made an impact right away, earning a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team before injuring his foot.  

He was similarly good as a sophomore, and was trending towards being an early pick in the 2020 draft. But, he suffered an injury that ended his junior season in the preseason. He wasn’t as great as a senior, which dropped his stock. 

There is still plenty of potential with Moses, and some team may elect to take a chance on him early in the draft. 

He’s likely a player that will have to find a home that is able to maximize his potential. And, with Detroit’s physical-minded coaching staff, the Lions may be the perfect spot.

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