Detroit Lions 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Trading down in the first round

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
3 of 7
Detroit Lions, Liam Eichenberg
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

With the 41st overall pick, the Detroit Lions select Liam Eichenberg.

It goes without saying, Penei Sewell had been the player I hope the Detroit Lions had a chance to select with the seventh overall pick.  Sewell isn’t expected to be available when the Lions are on the board at seven, and that proved to be true in this simulation which only fuelled my decision to trade back.

Liam Eichenberg is considered a plug-and-play left tackle at the NFL level entering the draft via Notre Dame, aka the offensive lineman factory.  Over the past few years, plenty of high-end linemen have entered the NFL from Notre Dame like Ronnie Stanley, Mike McGlinchey but none more famous in recent years than Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin.

In a normal year, Eichenberg would undoubtedly be a first-round choice. Like the receivers, the tackle position in 2021 is an intense class, leading to top-notch starters spewing over from the first round into the second.

Eichenberg is a polished 23-year old monster in the run game; he’s a mauler that often gets up to the second level of the defense with ease.

Here’s the thing, Eichenberg has not played any other position than left tackle for the Fighting Irish over his college career.  There is no guarantee that he will be able to slide over to the right side and excel right away.  That does concern me a bit, but hopefully, between Eichenberg and Decker, they will be able to anchor each side of the offensive line for years to come.

If there is a hole in Eichenberg’s game, it’s his pass protection but calling it a ‘hole’ is a stretch.  Eichenberg hasn’t been credited with allowing a single sack over the past two seasons and only allowed three in 2018, so the term hole is used very loosely here.

According to PFF, Eichenberg earned an overall grade of 80.5 in 2019 and a staggering 89.9 rating in 2020.

He’s done a fine job in that regard, and he’s an above-average pass defender but an elite run blocker.  If he can get the footwork figured out to play on the right side as a rookie, it will greatly benefit him and the Detroit Lions here at no. 41.

Notable players available: Rondale Moore, Payton Turner, Ronnie Turner, Wyatt Davis, Dyami Brown, Gregory Rousseau.