The Detroit Lions have multiple needs in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the team might simply choose to go for a safer pick early on as part of their new regime.
If that’s the case, there are few spots that make more sense for an upgrade for the Lions than the offensive line. The team already has the makings of a solid group after some draft work recently, but that doesn’t mean the Lions shouldn’t look to make another addition in the weeks ahead.
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Detroit has some good options to fortify their front and they don’t all figure to come in the top 10 of the draft. Here’s a look at some of the players the Lions could look to add to the mix.
Penei Sewell, T, Oregon
The tackle from Oregon is a mountain of a man and someone who isn’t easily moved up front. Sewell excels as not only a pass blocker but a run blocker, and is as close to complete of an offensive lineman as there has been in the draft lately. While playing for the Ducks, Sewell became the 2019 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best offensive lineman and also was a unanimous All-American and first-team All-PAC 12 player. Though he sat out 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did little to dampen his stock as a top pick this April. If he’s in play, the Lions have to consider him strongly.
Rashawn Slater, T, Northwestern
Perhaps a bit of an unknown by some folks, Slater represents an intriguing player for the Lions in terms of the draft. At Northwestern, he was third-team All-Big Ten during the 2018 season, and also played for the team in a trio of elite bowl games. He allowed no sacks in 11 starts as a junior in college, and while he took his senior year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for the draft, it’s done nothing to hurt his stock at this point in time. Like Sewell, Slater could be in the mix for the Lions early in the draft.
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Walker Little, T, Stanford
There’s been plenty of hand-wringing about whether or not the Lions should be in position to select one of the top offensive tackles early in either Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater. If the Lions manage to avoid picking one of those players or are not in position to, the team could still score with Little later on in the draft. He’s got size and the natural fit having played in a pro scheme already, which means he could translate well. Little could come off the board faster than most people anticipate, but if the Lions grabbed him around the third or fourth round, they could help out their line arguably as much as if they scored a top prospect.
Alex Leatherwood, T, Alabama
One of the more physical prospects in the draft, Leatherwood will not go as high as some of the elite tackles, but if the Lions wanted to address the offensive line in round two, they could look to target Leatherwood, as he could still be on the board at that point in time. The 2020 Outland Trophy winner as well as an All-American, Leatherwood has the skills but might go a bit later than expected. That could make him a great value for a team like Detroit.
Christian Darrisaw, T, Virginia Tech
An under-the-radar prospect, Darrisaw is the kind of player who hasn’t attracted much high-level attention going into the draft, but if the Lions were looking to grab one of the top three tackles this year, he could fit the bill in a major way. Last season, Darrisaw was a first-team All-ACC player along the team’s offensive front. Darrisaw has played for the Hokies since 2018, and is 6-5 and 314 pounds, making him the perfect size to fit in up front for the team. The Lions might have to consider a dramatic trade back, but Darrisaw could be an interesting player for them to add.
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