Detroit Lions May Scouting Report
Mostly positive reviews for the Lions draft. Nothing too surprising as the new regime seems like they are continuing to execute their plan with this long rebuilding process. Only one trade of picks during the draft as the Lions swapped pick 153 and a 2022 4th rounder for picks 113 and 257. Let’s look at the picks.
1.7 (7) OT Penei Sewell, Oregon. It seemed like the mock drafts for most of the offseason had Sewell going to the Bengals, but as the draft got closer we saw the Bengals focusing on Jamarr Chase. Sewell was a pretty easy choice for the Lions. Receiver was a big need but Pitts, Chase, and Waddle were gone. I was hoping for a trade down but if that wasn’t in the cards I am fine with the Sewell pick. He’s only 20 years old and has great upside as a cornerstone piece. Is there any down side? You could question that he will need to transition to right tackle to start his Lions career after playing left tackle at Oregon. He opted out of the 2020 season, but I don’t blame any Big Ten or Pac 12 player who opted out because those conferences flip flopped so badly on their plans. The Lions could have taken Justin Fields. If Fields and the Bears dominate the NFC North for the next 10 years we might look back at this pick as a mistake, but most people endorse the Sewell pick as the Lions are establishing their offensive line as one of the best in the league, further cemented by the recent contract extension for C Frank Ragnow.
2.9 (41) DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington, and 3.8 (72) DT Alim McNeill, NC State. I lumped these guys together because you can see that the Lions were clearly looking to upgrade in the trenches. There is talk that the Lions new defensive scheme could be more of a 3-4. McNeill profiles as a nose tackle, while Onwuzurike is more versatile. I thought the roster needed more help at linebacker and in the secondary so I was surprised they went with back to back defensive linemen, but this defense was historically bad last year and it isn’t going to be fixed in one offseason.
3.38 (101) CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse. This guy is a big corner who will hopefully develop into a long term starter opposite Jeff Okudah. With his size he could move to safety at some point.
4.7 (112) WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC. The Lions waited until round 4 to address their biggest position of need. St. Brown is the brother of Equanimeous who plays for the Packers. Amon-Ra is going to have an opportunity to play right away as a slot receiver. He can play outside as well. He doesn’t have great size or speed which is probably why he lasted until round 4, but he brings toughness, strength, and great hands. Keep him in mind as a deep sleeper in redraft leagues.
4.8 (113) LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue. I wasn’t thrilled to see the Lions dip into their 2022 draft capital to trade up for this pick, but they do have the Rams 1st rounder plus three compensatory picks coming their way next year so it was a reasonable move to get Barnes. There is a path to him becoming a starter as a rookie, so IDP players might want to keep an eye on him as a guy who could rack up the tackles.
7.30 (257) RB Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State. I thought this was a nice pick for this late in the draft as it looked like he could slide in as the fourth running back on the depth chart. But the Lions decided to waive RB Kerryon Johnson, so Jefferson is penciled in now as the third back. Kerryon was claimed by the Eagles. He hasn’t been the same since his knee injuries and he was being phased out but I was still a little surprised he was let go because he was still on his rookie deal so it didn’t create a huge amount of cap space. Maybe it means the Lions are high on Jefferson. He had 858 yards rushing in just 6 games in 2020. He didn’t catch many passes at Oregon State.
UDFA (skill positions only): WR Sage Surratt, Wake Forest, WR Jonathan Adams, Arkansas St., RB Rakeem Boyd, Arkansas, WR Javon McKinley, Notre Dame, RB Dedrick Mills, Nebraska, TE Brock Wright, Notre Dame, TE Jake Hausmann, Ohio State. The Lions might be able to get something out of this group. I figured they might be able to get some quality undrafted players because let’s face it, for an undrafted player it’s going to be easier to make the Lions roster as opposed to the Chiefs, Bucs, etc. I listed these guys above in order of their ranking on the CBS big board. Surratt was projected as a possible 3rd or 4th rounder. I’m not sure how he went undrafted but he has good size at 6’3, 215 and is worth watching. Adams and McKinley also have good size so you can see that after drafting a slot type in St. Brown they went for bigger receivers in the UDFA pool. You always need running back depth so there should certainly be room on the practice squad for Boyd and/or Mills if they show some talent. Wright and Hausmann profile as blocking tight ends.
That’s it for this month. I will be back next month with a new report including a look at the schedule and any other news that develops from the OTAs and minicamps.
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