The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching on April 29 8 PM ET from Cleveland Ohio. Goodell will be booed once again and picks will be made. This 3-part series will examine draft prospects for Round 1, day 2 (Round 2 and 3) and day 3 (Rounds 4-7). We’ll call out a few prospects and see where they could fit on NFC North squads. We’ll start with Round 1 because that generates the most excitement for possible team/game changing players and 1 comes before 2 (simple math).
Top 10 (Lions could take just about anyone that falls to them)
The QBs: A New Hope
There are five QBs who could potentially go in the top 10 of this draft.
Trevor Lawrence is the slam dunk top pick of this draft from Clemson. He has been a proven winner with a great arm, good mobility and flat out production with a National Championship in the 2018 season. Great football IQ, leadership, accurate, strength and athleticism. The Jaguars will surely take Lawrence at pick 1 under new coach Urban Meyer.
Zach Wilson may be the next QB off the board after a monster 2020 season with BYU. Great athlete with solid arm and anticipation. He will be a franchise QB and the Jets may nab him after trading Sam Darnold to Carolina with new coach Robert Saleh in the fold.
San Francisco traded up from 12 to 3 giving up first round picks in 2022/2023 to take a QB. Time will tell if they like Mac Jones (Alabama), Justin Fields (THE Ohio State) or boom/bust Trey Lance (North Dakota State). Jones was a winner who had a big 2020 National Championship season for the tide and would fit Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Justin Fields is uber athletic and has more QB accuracy and arm strength than past Ohio State QBs. Trey Lance is also extremely athletic and was a monster in 2019 against lesser competition at North Dakota State. Lance only played on game for 2020 “season”. All three could go top 10 or two could drop to the middle of Round 1.
Non QB Top 10
Penei Sewell (6’5 325) is a stud left tackle prospect from Oregon. He opted out of 2020 but is a rate athletic elite LT that can pass pro and be nasty in the run game. Sewell should be taken from pick 4-7. The Lions could surely be in play for Sewell at pick 9 given their hole at right tackle.
The WRs and the “TE”
There are three (3) stud WRs in this draft that could be potential game changing number 1 WRs and one freak of nature Tight End that was used more like a WR.
Jamarr Chase (6’1 208 lb) is a great all-around WR with good speed, route running and ball skills from LSU. He absolutely dominated with Joe Burrow in LSU’s championship 2019 season. He opted out for 2020 but blazed at his pro day. Chase should be the top WR off the board and if he lasts to pick 7, he would be a great choice for the Lions for a long-term number 1 WR solution.
Kyle Pitts (6’5 239) is just a freak of nature athletic tight end. He was used more as a WR and will not be your typical in line tight end. He is a matchup nightmare and what the Lions expected Ebron to be. Would the Lions dare to take another tight end? I think Pitts is good enough that they might if Sewell and Chase are gone.
Jaylen Waddle (5’10 182 lbs) is a burner and a good route runner. He has more speed than Devonta Smith but Smith had the bigger 2020 season. Waddle is more pro ready with a little better size and should be a game changer eventually. If Chase, Sewell, Pitts are gone, the Lions could still very much take this burner WR.
Devonta Smith (6’1 175 lb) is another long striding fast WR with better route running that many realize. He can get good YAC but is a little on the thin side. He could still very well go in the top 10 of this draft or be nabbed quickly in the teens. He is a playmaker but should be a Lion only after a trade down.
Micah Parsons is a uber productive Penn State LB that can play the run, blitz and cover. Incredibly fast and strong. He opted out of 2020 and has a hazing incident but this guy could be the LB to emulate the Bucs Super Bowl winning LBs (Devin White and Lavonte David). Lions need LB help and another choice the Lions could make. Lions could pick just about anybody here at pick 7 or after a trade down. Would they really shake things up and take Lance or Fields after trading/restructuring Jared Goff?
Middle Round 1
More Offensive Line (Hello Vikings and Bears)
Rashawn Slater versatile tackle/guard prospect from Northwestern. Slater is a powerful run blocking and did well in pass pro. He could sneak into the top 10 for a tackle needy team. Another option for the Lions at 9. Could he fall to the Vikings (pick 14) or Bears (pick 20) could trade up?
Chrisitan Darrisaw is a solid left tackle prospect from VA Tech. Mocked to the Bears often but the Vikings could nab him first at pick 14.
Alijah Vera-Tucker versatile tackle/guard prospect that probably fills a right guard spot. Bears or Vikings both in play especially if he can be a right tackle. Seems to be a trend for needing offensive line for these two North teams.
The Top Corners Corner
Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn are the top 3 CBS in this draft and should be pick from 11-20. One could sneak into the top 10. If they fall to the Bears at 20, they could nab them after cutting Kyle Fuller. Vikings 1st round CB from last year has issues but Peterson, Dantzler, Alexander and Hughes should have them covered for 2021. Three are in contract years for the Vikings though.
Pass Rushers, See QB Kill QB
Kwity Paye should be a base defensive end from Michigan. Jaelen Phillips another edge prospect from Miami (transferred from UCLA) has the size and speed to be a day 1 pass rusher. Phillips has concussion issues though. Azeez Ojuwari 3-4 OLB prospect from Georgia that could intrigue some teams. Maybe the Vikings add more defensive end firepower after losing Odenigbo. Bears have Mack and Quinn and Hicks so shouldn’t take one.
Cover LBs (What the Bucs did)
Jeremiah Owusu Koromoah (Notre Dame) and Baron Browning (Ohio State) is the next batch of good LB prospects. Owusu is a cover WILL LB from Note Dame. Browning more of a MIKE. Lions after a big trade down could be in play here. Vikings need a Will LB after losing starter Eric Wilson in free agency.
Late Round 1
RB for First Round, People Hate That
Travis Ettiene (Clemson) and Najee Harris (Alabama) have storied and productive college careers for two powerhouses. Doubt they end up in the NFC North though.
More Wide Receivers in a Deep Class
Rashod Bateman (Minnesota), Terrace Marshall (LSU) and Kadarius Toney (Florida) are all very different late first WR prospects. The Packers are very much in play for any of these picks after Lazard and MVS failed to step up fully in 2020. Toney would be a great addition to the Packers.
More Offensive Line Late
Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State), Landon Dickerson (Alabama G/C), Liam Eichenberg (RT from Notre Dame), Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State). Green Bay needs a tackle after cutting Rick Wagner and Bakthiaris injury. Jenkins, Radunz or Eichenberg could be in play. Dickerson could be picked depending how they fell about Jon Runyan Jr and where they play Jenkins/Turner.
Other Late First Rounders
LB Zaven Collins is a poor mans Micah Parsons from Tulsa. Packers could select him too to mix things up at ILB.
Edge Greg Rosseau is a solid edge defender from Miami.
CB Greg Newsome. Newsome is rising but the Packers have three CBs in contract years in King, Sullivan and Jackson. Newsome would be a nice add to pair with Jaire Alexander.
Hope you enjoy Round 1 on April 29.