The Detroit Lions are heading down the home stretch of the 2021 NFL Draft process, and as a result, there are new mocks everyday for folks to ponder from experts and amateurs alike.
One of the most interesting updates came from noted ESPN guru Mel Kiper. Previously, Kiper had the Lions trading back and going with defense with their pick in the form of Micah Parsons. A more recent update had the team grabbing wideout DeVonta Smith.
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This time, though, Kiper had the Lions landing perhaps the best wideout in the entire draft in the form of Ja’Marr Chase. Chase slipped down the board in Kiper’s latest Insider mock to Detroit with the seventh pick thanks to some chaos ahead of the Lions’ selection.
Mel Kiper flipped on the Niner Gang. I feel like this is the presidential election and we are waiting on the results from Arizona. pic.twitter.com/hGPh2QyEfX
— Crocky (@eric_crocker) April 13, 2021
As for the reasoning behind the pick, Kiper wrote:
“The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner led the country that season with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches, and he’d instantly be the Lions’ top receiver on a depth chart that includes new signings Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. He’s great at making contested catches and can break tackles and run after the catch. He’s a legit No. 1 wideout, which is sorely needed in Detroit.”
This mock was a two-round draft, so Kiper also made Detroit’s pick at 41 as well. There, he pulled a bit of a surprise, sending Buffalo edge rusher Malcolm Koonce to the Lions. Koonce hasn’t been on many radars, but Kiper likes his fit in a pass-rush needy Detroit defense.
“Trey Flowers hasn’t lived up to his free-agent price tag, and the Lions’ pass rush as a whole has disappointed the last two seasons. Koonce is a natural pass-rusher who had 14 sacks over the past two seasons. He has great length and can be disruptive as a situational edge defender. He’s being underrated in the lead-up to this draft, but I love his tape.”
Underrated is an understatement for Koonce, who is not on many radars as a high second-round pick at this point in time. Detroit would score easily with Chase, however, so many would take that move from this mock alone if the draft were to play out this way.
Koonce’s Stats and Highlights
Most Lions fans probably don’t know a lot about the Buffalo edge prospect, and it’s safe to say this Kiper projection could be more than a bit of a reach for Detroit given the fact that other prospects could have made more of a name for themselves at this point in time. Even such, Kiper is right to say that Koonce has some talent. In college, he’s registered 109 total tackles, 22 tackles for-loss, 17 sacks and 4 forced fumbles during his career. That kind of production is hard to ignore, even for a small-school product.
Here’s a look at his highlights:
Obviously, Koonce might be a bit underrated, but it’s easy to see why he could be a high-rising prospect in a few week’s time.
Chase’s Stats and Highlights
While Chase didn’t play this past season on the field, he has been no less successful statistically through the years playing with LSU. In just a pair of seasons played in the SEC with the Tigers, Chase put up a solid 2,093 yards and 23 touchdowns. He flashed his big-play potential with Joe Burrow before he departed for the NFL, and is a potentially elite talent getting ready to make his transition to the next level.
Chase has size and speed and many consider him to be one of the best wideouts set to make the transition to the league this coming season. After a solid pro day, he’s probably going to be a top selection even as some give the Lions an edge to landing him in mocks.
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