General manager Brad Holmes has placed his stamp on the Detroit Lions organization in his first season turning the key for the franchise. He’s established a mantra in gritty head coach Dan Campbell and acquired cheap, talented spot starters during the open signing period all while shuttering out the noise surrounding his shipment of former franchise cornerstone Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles.
It’s Jared Goff’s job to lose under center, as the 26-year old talent looks to kickstart his career following a fractured relationship with Rams’ brass. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are gone, which will inherently leave massive shoes to be filled, but the additions of Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman offer veteran targets for Goff who has no issue slinging the rock around the yard.
With only six selections (and zero in the sixth or seventh rounds), Holmes has limited wiggle room to miss in an ultimate attempt to add talent to a roster lacking exactly that. With that approach, here is what a potential seven-round draft could look like as we approach next week’s NFL draft. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, here is my post-free agency mock draft for Detroit:
Round 1 (No. 7 overall): Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
With wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle both off the board, Penei Sewell is the clear selection here as Holmes’ first selection as general manager. No, it’s not the sexy pick in one of the top-tier wideouts or cornerbacks, but Sewell may develop into the most successful player in the class a decade down the road, regardless of position.
Taylor Decker could move to the right side, but Sewell’s excellent positional versatility will allow him to slot in at right tackle right away. For Campbell, Sewell’s addition echoes his mantra of tough, downhill football, a culture he’s predicated on enforcing into the Lions since his induction as head coach.
Round 2 (No. 41 overall): Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
Let’s stick on the offensive side of the ball where Goff gets his WR1. Terrace Marshall Jr. is everything Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods offered him in Los Angeles. Marshall can now be his top target in newly minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn’s pass-happy scheme.
Marshall is a 6-foot-3 blazer on the edge who played second fiddle to Chase in 2019 before ending his junior campaign prematurely to prepare for the upcoming draft. However, before opting out of the season, Marshall took over WR1 reps for head coach Ed Orgeron’s Chase-less offense for five games in 2020, and he impressed. Marshall totaled 48 receptions for 731 yards with six touchdowns, highlighted by a dominating opening week performance where he torched Missouri’s secondary to the tune of 235 yards and three touchdowns. Marshall isn’t just a vertical threat, however, as he worked seamlessly in the intermediate portions of the Tigers offense behind Justin Jefferson and Chase during his tenure at LSU. Through two rounds, the Lions have now filled two massive needs to build around Goff, a similar approach I envision them taking when the draft commences.
Round 3 (No. 72 overall): Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State
Pete Werner, again, fits exactly what my goal was here with Detroit. Adding immediate impact starters with only six selections is a must here for Holmes, and he gets the future at linebacker here in the third round.
Werner did it all for Ohio State as its SAM linebacker, and I project him to do the same at the next level. Per his scouting report from The Draft Network: “Werner’s size, hand power, and athleticism should afford him a prominent three-down role in an NFL defense—especially when accounting for how often the Buckeyes have charged him with playing on the fringes of the box and in coverage.”
Round 3 (No. 101 overall): Tyler Shelvin, IDL, LSU
With the addition of Michael Brockers, the Lions front four could serve as their backbone heading into 2021 with the addition of Tyler Shelvin. Alongside Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers, Shelvin’s impressive skill set as a prototypical 1-technique adjacent to Brockers should fit seamlessly into first-year defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn’s defense.
A’Shawn Robinson’s selection back in 2016 represents the last defensive tackle the Lions have selected in the third round or higher; that must change this spring with Shelvin on the board here. He has the opportunity to make a massive impact from Day 1 within the interior.
Round 4 (No. 112 overall): Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
Detroit gets its corner. I know, it’s a little later than expected, but bear with me.
Israel Mukuamu is one of my favorite ball-hawking corners of the entire class, as his length and vision were evident in his seven career interceptions during his time as a Gamecock. At 6-foot-3, Mukuamu has room to grow in his lower half from a mirroring and footwork standpoint, and he could opt to add weight onto his feathery 205-pound frame, but his raw tools stand out when focusing on second-tier secondary prospects this spring. Mukuamu, Jeff Okudah, and Quinton Dunbar present a nice core of cover athletes within Detroit’s secondary.
Round 5 (No. 153 overall): Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
SEC. SEC. SEC. When you have just six picks, why not take players from the top conference in college football? Richard LeCounte III joins Marshall, Shelvin, and Mukuamu here as another SEC product with the experience and tools to start at the onset of his career.
LeCounte is a rangy athlete with punch on the backend. His physical style of game should garner him a large number of snaps from Week 1, especially considering the lack of talent Detroit has suffered from at the apex of the defense. He provides outstanding value here in the fifth round.