Detroit Lions: Building the organization’s 2021 NFL Draft board

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Detroit Lions, Kyle Pittz
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Players who provide good value for the Detroit Lions at seventh overall.

The players here would be solid value at seventh overall for the Detroit Lions; however, if another team came in with a great offer to trade up, the Lions should definitely consider trading down. Even if a team doesn’t have a great offer, the Lions should definitely be happy taking one of the players from this tier.

7. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

I have Jaylen Waddle slightly above his teammate Devonta Smith due to his game-changing speed. Speed is the name of the game for Waddle with his legit 4.2 speed, but there is more to his game than just that.

With his speed, it is smart just to get him the ball on screens, reverses, and dump-offs as he is a threat to score every time he gets the ball. On top of that, he is a good route runner who knows how to use speed and athleticism to gain separation.

He is especially great on double moves and crossing routes where defenses must respect his speed. Waddle is a tremendous playmaker who defense’ must account for at all times.

8. Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Devonta Smith is coming off a Heisman win and one of the greatest, if not the greatest, season ever for a college receiver and is wide receiver number three on this list which is absolutely bananas.

Smith is a tactician who absolutely torched defensive backs with his crafty route running. He has great hands, especially in traffic, and seems to never drop the ball. Goff would love having such a reliable receiver who will consistently be able to get open and make great catches.

The only real knocks on Smith is his skinny frame, and he isn’t a top-tier physical specimen like Chase and Waddle. These are small nitpicks, but that is really the only way to separate great prospects like Chase, Waddle, and Smith. Odds are all three with be incredibly productive pros starting day one, which the Lions could use.

9. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Linebacker is the weakest position group on the Lions, and Micah Parsons is the best linebacker and defensive prospect in the draft. It seems like a perfect fit on paper, but the top of the draft has so much offensive talent that the Lions should consider the best player instead of team need. If they do decide to go defense, Parsons easily makes the most sense in the top ten.

Despite being listed as a linebacker, Parsons played all over the defense and filled several different roles. He is an incredible athlete with a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day who can fly all over the field defending the run.

In the passing game, he is a capable pass rusher (five sacks in 2019), and he is fluid in pass coverage with great change of direction ability. Parsons just started playing linebacker in college, so he is still learning the nuances of the position.

As long as he continues to grow in his ability to diagnose plays, he will be a game wrecker on defense. He would be able to stuff the run, cover tight ends and running backs, and blitz creating havoc for the offense.

10. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Kyle Pitts is another intriguing option for the Lions. On one hand, the Lions have TJ Hockenson, a Pro Bowler at tight end, and high upside second year Hunter Bryant, so the Lions really don’t have a need at all for a tight end. But it would be foolish to consider Pitts just a tight end. Pitts is just another great receiving option in the same vein as Waddle and Smith with maybe even more mismatch potential.

At Florida, he lined up in the slot, outside, and with his hand in the dirt. He ran a 4.46 at his pro day despite being listed at 239-pounds. As a receiver, he knows how to get open using his athleticism and speed out of breaks.

Even if he doesn’t get open, he is great at 50/50 balls, especially in the red zone. In the run game, he is a willing blocker but doesn’t have great strength at the point of attack. You’re not drafting him to be a traditional tight end; think of him more like a Mike Evans style receiver with great size and strength.

An offense featuring mismatch weapons like Pitts and Hockenson on the field at the same time would be tough to match up with, and you could even realistically have all three tight ends on the field at the same time.