Which prospect are you most eager to see in Honolulu blue?
After months of anticipation, the 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone. Seven players were drafted by the new Brad Holmes-led regime, his first foray into the world of general managing. But has he done enough in this draft alone to turn the hopes of the franchise around?
The first selection for the Detroit Lions was Penei Sewell, a pick that made the war room explode with joy . A dominant tackle prospect, Sewell will hopefully anchor the offensive line for years to come. Through the regular season, Sewell was regarded as the second-best prospect after Trevor Lawrence. With the demand for quarterbacks rising, we saw Sewell slide to seventh overall. Getting such a prospect at that draft position is incredible value for Detroit.
The Lions doubled up on defensive tackles on Day 2, selecting Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. Both are fierce interior linemen, hopefully adding some pass rushing presence that has been sorely missed. Neither player conflicts with each other, as Onwuzurike is a hybrid DT/DE, whereas McNeill projects as a nose tackle. Both could see significant play time early on.
Ifeatu Melifonwu was the second third rounder for Detroit, a pick acquired from the Matthew Stafford trade. While he might not see a starting role in 2021, he is an athletic specimen that has potential to develop into a talented outside corner. Playing to his size is a weakness he will have to work on this year.
The Lions finally addressed some pressing needs in Round 4 with the back-to-back selections of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Derrick Barnes. The wide receiver and linebacker, respectively, bolster weak units on the roster, and while they are unlikely to be pressed into a starting role, the depth is shallow—and poor—enough that they could step in if injuries arise.
The final pick of the draft was perhaps a luxury, but for the 257th pick of the draft, you are essentially calling dibs on an undrafted free agent. Jermar Jefferson will be the fourth running back on the roster at best, but as a pass catching option, he could provide some value that the top three do not. He will face competition from UDFAs like Rakeem Boyd and Dedrick Mills , but he likely has the edge early on.
Not too shabby for a first draft class.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Who was your favorite Lions draft pick?
My answer: Alim McNeill was my favorite pick.
The McNeill pick was the perfect combination of positional value, positional need, and player value. The defensive tackle class this year was shallow, but McNeill was one of my top guys. A nose tackle with some pass rushing pop is a valuable asset for most defenses, and his outstanding run defense is just icing on the cake. I liked McNeill more than Onwuzurike, and had him in many of my mock drafts.
With the release of Danny Shelton this offseason, the only real competition at nose tackle is John Penisini. He had some moments, but as a pure run stuffer, his value is going to be limited. McNeill might not play every down, but when he is, I will be excited to see him play.