Detroit Lions mock draft: 7-round 2021 NFL Draft projections with trades

In this Detroit Lions mock draft, find out how new general manager Brad Holmes can use a strong rookie class to begin building a true winner in the Motor City.

By Matt Fitzgerald

With a new coaching staff and front office in place ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s no telling which direction a Detroit Lions mock draft is going to go.

It stands to reason that the Lions will give Jared Goff at least one season to prove himself as a potential quarterback of the future, but beyond that, nothing is very certain. Detroit has multiple holes across its roster and could benefit from trading back to collect future picks, because no one first-rounder is going to drastically change the team’s fortunes this coming season.

So with that, and using The Draft Network’s simulator as our guide, let’s dive into a full seven-round Detroit Lions mock draft.

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Detroit Lions mock draft: Trade back leads to upgrades at key spots

Detroit Lions mock draft: Trade back leads to upgrades at key spots
Nov 9, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) looks on during pregame warmups before a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
  • First round, 15th pick (via Patriots): Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
  • Second round, 41st pick: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
  • Second round, 46th pick (via Patriots): Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia
  • Third round, 72nd pick: Tommy Togiai, DL, Ohio State

Lions head coach Dan Campbell started his tenure with a bang this offseason. In his loquacious, impassioned opening press conference, Campbell spoke of biting off kneecaps to underscore the hard-nosed, tough identity he wanted his Lions teams to forge.

Well guess what, you kneecap-eating gem of a man? Ask and ye shall receive some hard-nosed, tough players to headline your first rookie draft class. If general manager Brad Holmes follows this strategy, Detroit is indeed going to be tougher.

Thanks to a trade with the New England Patriots as they pursued an upgrade at quarterback, the Lions gain a third first-round pick in 2022 and an extra second-rounder in this draft. Now, let’s take a look at these prospects who all fit that Dan Campbell paradigm.

Take Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman: A physical receiver who can win outside right away in the NFL thanks to aggression at the catch point, advanced route-running ability and a knack for breaking tackles in the open field.

Behind Bateman in this mock is another wideout, because Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams don’t exactly scream “long-term answers” at the position. Elijah Moore from Ole Miss. He’s a fearless, explosive slot dynamo who lit up the SEC for 86 receptions, 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games this past season.

Does a quicker, strong version of T.Y. Hilton sound appealing to you?

Although he may be considered a reach by some other teams, Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell is a great fit in Detroit. Beyond sharing a last name with his new head coach, it’s actually more about what Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn should be able to do for him and his development.

Glenn was a former first-round pick and was a three-time Pro Bowl corner. Already as sure of a tackler as any cornerback in the 2021 class, Campbell just needs to be coached up on the finer points of playing coverage, and who better to get that out of him than his new play-caller?

Finally, imagine Tommy Togiai lining up next to Michael Brockers on the Lions’ interior defensive line. Pair a space-eater like Brockers with an explosive, relentless-motor player like Togiai who still has a ton of upside to explore, and Detroit may have something special in short order.

Read More: Detroit Lions restructure QB Jared Goff’s contract, free up $15M in cap space

Detroit Lions mock draft: Day 3 safeties and a QB to push Jared Goff

Detroit Lions mock draft: Day 3 safeties and a QB to push Jared Goff
Nov 30, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • Fourth round, 101st pick: Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
  • Fourth round, 112th pick: Davis Mills, QB, Stanford
  • Fifth round, 153rd pick: Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech

How about some Jared Goff insurance? With the aforementioned three first-round picks in 2022 and, in all likelihood, a tough season on the horizon, Detroit should have a real chance to get the top QB in next year’s draft.

But just in case, why not invest in a contingency option like Davis Mills. A pure thrower who made only 11 starts at Stanford, Mills nevertheless executed a pro-style offense relatively well amid difficult circumstances.

One of Goff’s main shortcomings is feel in the pocket and struggling to do anything out of structure. Some of that is true in Mills’ case, yet he shocked everyone with a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Goff doesn’t have that kind of speed in his arsenal, that’s for sure. The fact that Mills does suggests that with more experience, he can threaten defenses with his legs and buy time for improvised chunk gains in the passing game.

Ar’Darius Washington’s extremely slight frame is the main reason he slid so far in the mock draft simulator. Should he still be available in Round 4, you can bet the Lions will be all over him. They badly need upgrades at the safety position, and Washington can play both spots. He’s a violent hitter despite weighing only about 180 pounds — and has some of the best pure coverage skills of any defensive back in the draft.

The Lions’ final pick is spent on the secondary, too, as Divine Deablo takes the honors. Quite the physical opposite of Washington, Deablo is a massive safety prospect who could even be a fit at linebacker in subpackages. But make no mistake, like Washington, he can really lay the lumber when called upon.

So, to summarize: Bateman and Moore essentially play angry in the open field and when the ball is in the air. Campbell, Washington and Deablo all bring tons of coverage help to the defensive backfield and are all exceptional tacklers. Togiai gives the d-line some much-needed juice and talent on the inside. Mills is a much faster and athletic version of Goff and could even push him in training camp.

Sounds like a kneecap-eating good time.

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