Welcome to Fixing the Franchises!
This is a brand new article series where I will move from division to division, giving you my takes on how the four teams may attack the NFL Draft.
I’ll talk about what I think each team’s draft strategy might be, team needs, players who I think fill those needs at the relative value and a perfect prospect fit for each.
I’m going to kick the series off with the NCF North, I will drop four teams each Saturday for you guys to enjoy! Let’s get to it!
Bitin’ kneecaps on defense and a new quarterback on offense – The Lions are making some headlines this offseason and they will be hoping that the headlines continue into the new season as they look for an upturn in fortunes under new head coach, Dan Campbell.
In 2020, the Lions put up 5 wins to close out an uninspiring era under Matt Patricia, but now it’s Dan Cambell’s show and he’s got Jared Goff as his new QB (for now) and offensively speaking at least, the number one priority seems to be giving Goff some guys to throw the football to. The Lions only own 6 picks in this year’s draft so they will have to be wise with their selections, unless they gather picks by trading back. Teams have been in the hunt for 2022 picks in some cases, which I would find interesting for Detroit because they already have two first round picks for the next two years by virtue of the Stafford/Goff trade.If the Lions acquired picks for 2022 instead of this year’s draft, they could essentially control the draft next year.
That would be a great position to be in when rebuilding.
So what do they need?
As mentioned earlier, the Lions need some pass catchers above all else. Most of the big name free agents from this team are receivers; Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Mohamed Sanu and of course, Kenny Golladay are all out of contract.
The team has started to refurbish this area of the roster by signing Tyrell Williams to a 1-year $6.2m deal but the bigger bit of business will be the dichotomy that they face on whether to bring back Golladay or Romeo Okwara.
Whoever they don’t bring back out of the two, the other position group becomes a need immediately.
Golladay is a bona fide WR1 and Okwara just had his first double-digit sack season and both will want to be compensated for their current status.
So when the Lions come on the clock at pick 7, all of the edge class is in play and probably whichever receiver is left out of Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith.
The curve ball is quarterback – Jarde Goff’s deal has zero dead money after the 2022 season, so he could have a 2 year shelf life in The Motor City. A nice amount of time to be developing an unpolished diamond like Trey Lance, with the added bonus of having multiple first round picks for the next few years.
Outside of those areas, some secondary help to replace Desmond Trufant and Duron Harmon and maybe some interior offensive line reinforcements too.
Picks available (Round) (all compensatory picks are projected, not confirmed):
Picks 7 (1), 41 (2), 72 (3), 88 (3), 113 (4), 157 (4)
What could the strategy be?
Outside of “get good players”, which seems abundantly clear for a team who topped out at 6 wins under their previous head coach, the Lions will want to acquire talent that will fit Dan Campbell’s image and also fit Anthony Lynn’s offensive philosophy.
As a former tight end and running back who are overseeing the offense – I would imagine Detroit are going to pursue hard-nosed, blue collar players who block and carry out their assignments when they get into the meat of the draft.
In the mid rounds I could see Detroit going after a lot of guys coming out after their Senior year, a lot of character and work ethic guys in
Early on, they’ll need some star power, potentially through the one of the guys mentioned above.
The Lions have drafted some top tier talent in the past few years with Frank Ragnow, TJ Hockenson, Jeff Okudah and D’Andre Swift in the first or second round in recent years. There are some building blocks there, now it’s up to Detroit to continue to build upon that.
Early Draft Business
I really like Detroit’s situation in the fact that they are slated to get one of the better wide receivers in the draft.
They can hope for a run on QB’s and they will potentially have a choice between two of the top guys but I think they’ll have at least one of Chase, Smith or Waddle to choose from.
Outside of wide receiver, if they chose to go in a different direction, they could opt to take any of the edge class if Romeo Okwara is playing elsewhere in 2021, or they could opt to start the run on cornerbacks, which again they could have the pick of the litter and the top three guys in Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn.
The Lions are in a nice spot to grab a difference maker early.
At 41 the Lions will find themselves in a nice sweet spot for some edge or corner help – Both of these classes are pretty deep without having masses of top tier talent.
Any late round gems that could take their fancy?
Anthony Lynn values blocking on his offense, the Lions are looking for pass catchers and in particular, they need to find a slot receiver to compliment the marquee wide receiver, whether that be a draftee or Golladay staying in town, and also Tyrell Williams who they’ve already signed.
So how about Dazz Newsome out of North Carolina? Newsome is a feisty blocker, a nice receiver with good hands and he’ll also return punts and kicks – And special teams is something that both Lynn and Campbell will want to get right.
Perfect prospect fit?
The ideal situation would be if Ja’Marr Chase fell to 7 in my book – I feel like his skill set as an alpha dog wide receiver meshes really nicely with Jared Goff’s deep passing. Chase isn’t the biggest receiver but he plays much bigger than his size, he’s a superb route runner and attacks the ball at the catch point more than anyone in this draft class.
The Lions can let Golladay walk and invest that cash elsewhere on the roster and become better overall.