Detroit Lions: Recapping the draft before heading into Day Three

(Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

The new regime running the Detroit Lions led by general manager (GM) Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell clearly had an agenda laid out heading into their first year guiding this organization through their rebuild.

The common theme in 2021 for the Detroit Lions is to build this thing from the ground up, starting in the trenches on both sides of the football.  Despite a mostly dreadful 2020 season, the Detroit Lions did produce the 13th ranked offensive line.  They’ve likely launched themselves into the top five after drafting the 2021 consensus top offensive lineman Penei Sewell out of Oregon with the seventh overall pick.

Sewell is expected to start at right tackle in 2021 for the Lions opposite Taylor Decker, who is coming off a stellar 2020 season.  The Lions will also deploy Frank Ragnow, second-year guard Jonah Jackson, and likely a battle between Hal Vaitai, Tyrell Crosby, and Logan Stenberg for the final spot along the line.

The Detroit Lions entered the draft, clearly wanting to bolster their roster in the trenches.

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It’s almost like Holmes and Campbell are saying, we see you, Dalvin Cook, and Aaron Jones.

The Detroit Lions used the 41st pick in the NFL Draft on defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike out of Washington.  Onwuzurike is a strong 6-foot-3 290-pound defensive tackle that excelled in both the A-Gap and B-Gaps at Washington. The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had Onwuzurike pegged as his top defensive tackle prospect just ahead of Alabama’s Christain Barmore.

The Lions chose Onwuzurike over the likes of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Trevon Moehrig, and Rondale Moore, which came as quite a surprise to me.

As the Detroit Lions landed on the clock with the 72nd overall pick, all signs seemed to point towards Nico Collins, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Dyami Brown, as the organization has a clear need for a plug-and-play starting receiver.  That wouldn’t be the case.

The Detroit Lions continued building in the trenches picking nose tackle Alim McNeill out of N.C. State.

McNeill is load inside, standing 6-foot-2 at 320-pounds, but it’s an athletic 320.  McNeill recorded 10 sacks, 77 tackles, 17.5 of which were for a loss plus a pick-six in three seasons with N.C. State.

With the 101st overall pick and the organization’s final pick of the evening, the Detroit Lions picked a cornerback not named Ambry Thomas from Michigan but Ifeatu Melifonwu from Syracuse.  If Melifonwu’s name rings a bell, that’s because the Wolverines made a huge push hoping to flip him on signing day from the Orange, but he opted to remain with Syracuse.

Melifonwu is a 6-foot-3 lengthy, tough outside corner that should press both Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye for a starting outside job right from day one.

The junior played in 10 games last season, recording 54 tackles, one sack, one interception, and six passes defended.

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Notable players still available heading into day three: Jabril Cox, Tylan Wallace, Shi Smith, Shakur Brown, Jamar Johnson, Jay Tufele, Marvin Wilson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Michael Carter, Dylan Moses, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ar’Darius Washington, DJ Daniel, and Cameron McGrone.