With the no. 97 pick in the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Jahleel Billingsley.
This selection is expected to be a compensatory pick at the end of the third round granted to the Detroit Lions from Kenny Golladay signing with the New York Giants last offseason.
As of now, Golladay is the gift that keeps on giving. I recently wrote that the Detroit Lions dodged a bullet by not giving Golladay a lucrative long-term deal. Golladay has spent some time injured this season, but in 12 games (at the time of this writing), he’s made just 34 grabs totaling 499 yards, having failed to score a touchdown. Yikes. This followed 338 yards on 20 catches and two scores last season with the Detroit Lions over five games.
The Detroit Lions need to find another offensive weapon at the tight end position to deploy with T.J. Hockenson or, at the very least, someone who can be elevated as the teams’ top tight end if an injury occurs to Hockenson.
Jahleel Billingsley is built like an outside receiver at 6-foot-4, playing around 230 pounds. That is a bit light for an in-line tight end, and I suspect he’d struggle as a run-blocker at the NFL level. That being said, playing second fiddle to Hockenson will allow the Detroit Lions to line Billingsley up as a ‘big-slot’ with Hockenson in-line in double tight end sets. He does line up in line with the Crimson Tide, but as you know, the NFL is another animal.
When Jaylen Waddle suffered an injury in 2020, Alabama head coach used Billingsley as the primary kick returner. That reminds me of Delanie Walker early on in his career playing with the San Francisco 49ers.
There is enough raw talent here to take a chance on. Billingsley totaled just 256 receiving yards on 17 grabs scoring twice to date for Alabama but found himself in Saban’s dog house in the first half of the season.
In Billingsley’s absence, Alabama turned to a converted linebacker Cameron Latu at tight end. Latu has made 21 receptions totaling seven touchdowns and 308 yards.
I hoped Cade Otton would be available here, but he had been selected about six choices earlier. Otton is a more traditional tight end at 6-foot-4 playing around 250 pounds. Otton would be a fabulous compliment to Hockenson in both the passing and blocking game. If he’s there, he’d be the pick, but for this exercise, he isn’t, so I’m going with the risky Billingsley.
Players passed on: Josh Whyle, Benton Cox Jr, Alontae Taylor, Chad Muma, Thayer Munford, Markquese Bell, Hassan Haskins.