Rogers and Niyo discuss the Lions’ top draft pick: Penei Sewell
Lions beat writer Justin Rogers and columnist John Niyo break down the Lions’ first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft: Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
Justin Rogers and John Niyo, The Detroit News
The Detroit Lions started off their draft class by taking Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the No. 7 pick. Shifting into Day 2 of the draft, the team still has a roster’s worth of holes to address.
Scheduled to pick three times (41, 72 and 101) on Friday, there’s an opportunity to find a trio of contributors. Here are a dozen players we believe could help.
► Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Of the players who slipped out of the first round, Owusu-Koramoah is one of the most surprising. His glaring deficiency is his size. At his pro day, he checked in at 221 pounds, which makes it challenging to work him into a scheme at this level. But the rangy linebacker checks nearly every other box, from length to speed to football character. A creative defensive coordinator will find a way to deploy him, particularly in coverage.
► Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
The Lions have quality depth on the outside, but can still get better at the nickel after parting ways with Justin Coleman this offseason. Corn Elder is a fine stopgap, but the competitive and instinctive Molden would make for an excellent long-term fit in Detroit. If he was more athletic, he’d probably go in Round 2, but the Lions might be able to get him in Round 3. In his final, he racked up five interceptions.
Lions GM Brad Holmes on Day 2 draft strategy
“We’re not going to anchor ourselves or pigeonhole ourselves and say, ‘We got to get this position or that position,'” Holmes said.
The Detroit News
► Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
Detroit’s long-term outlook at safety is shaky, with Tracy Walker entering the final year of his rookie contract and Will Harris yet to put it together after two seasons. Holland has a prototypical build at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds and has shown a knack for making plays on the ball. With Lions coach Dan Campbell acknowledging the team’s plan to play more split-safety looks in 2021, Holland would make for a strong pairing with Walker.
Holland also flashed some punt-return ability for the Ducks, averaging 15.3 yards on 16 attempts in 2019, before opting out of the 2020 season.
► Joseph Ossai, edge, Texas
There was a run on edge defender at the end of the first round with Buffalo, Kansas City and Tampa Bay each taking a lineman to cap Thursday night. But there’s still some talent on the board to be had at the top of the second.
Ossai pairs elite athleticism — particularly his speed and explosion — with a hot-running motor. That kind of effort will fit nicely into the culture Campbell is trying to build. Ossai is a bit undersized, at 256 pounds, but could be a backfield disruptor on passing downs to start.
► Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
At some point, the Lions have to address their woeful defense, but if they’re going to stick to taking the best player available, Marshall could fit the bill if he’s still there at pick No. 41.
With Ja’Marr Chase opting out of the 2020 season, Marshall stepped up his production in a big way, racking up 731 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games. One of the biggest appeals is his versatility. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder did a lot of his damage out of the slot for the Tigers, but he has the speed and leaping ability to handle his own along the sidelines.
► Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
Johnson, like Holland, has good size for the position, measuring in at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. Johnson’s calling card was his ball skills. Despite limited playing time — fewer than 800 snaps the past two years — he managed to corral six interceptions. His instincts will definitely play at the next level. The biggest concern, and one that might push him down the Lions’ board, is his inconsistencies as a tackler. According to data tracked by Pro Football Focus, he whiffed on more than 20 percent of his tackle attempts during his college career.
► Alim McNeill, DT, North Carolina State
The Lions have suffered from a severe lack of interior pressure in recent seasons. In an effort to address the issue, the team acquired Michael Brockers in trade this offseason, but they could certainly use some more juice on the inside.
McNeil is on the short side for the position at 6-foot-2, but is thickly built at 320 pounds. That body type screams run-stuffer, which he is, but he’s also impressively quick and explosive for his size. The sacks weren’t there in 2020, but he did manage 10 in 36 college games, including 5.5 in 2019.
► Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
A short, stocky slot, 66 of Rodgers’ 77 receptions last season came from an inside alignment. Despite the extra pounds, he does a nice job of creating quick separation off the line, and once the ball is in his hands, he’s a load to take down for a nickel cornerback. He forced 17 missed tackles last season, racking up 8.0 yards after the catch on average.
Another benefit of his size, paired with the mindset for it, is Rodgers is an above-average blocker. It’s an underappreciated skill for many, but will resonate with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
► Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
A second-generation talent, following in the footsteps of his All-Pro father, the younger Samuel showcases similar ball skills. He broke up 20 passes and intercepted four balls the past two seasons. He’s successfully handled playing both inside and outside for the Seminoles, but at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he looks to be a more natural slot corner at this level.
► Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Cox, a graduate transfer, made a relatively seamless transition from North Dakota State to college football’s most-competitive conference. Yes, like many college linebackers, he’s on the light side, but he has top-end speed and explosiveness for the position.
Where Cox thrives is in coverage. Put him on the outside and he has the range to handle both zone and man assignments. He also has the look of a strong, multi-phase special teams player.
► Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech
Williams’ frame will turn off a lot of evaluators. Not only is he a positional tweener at 284 pounds, but he has some of the shortest arms you’ll see on a defense lineman, measuring 31½ inches.
That’s a lot to overcome, but he’s managed to rack up more than 100 tackles and 10 sacks the past two seasons thanks to off-the-charts athleticism and deceptive power.
► Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Another receiver who figures to come off the board in the top half of the second round, Moore is also more slot-centric, doing a lot of damage after the catch. It’s easy to understand why when you dig into his measurables. On top of 4.35-second, 40-yard speed, his numbers in the change-of-direction drills were elite.
Moore would be a good complement to the field-stretching abilities of Detroit’s outside options. Either he would keep opposing defenses honest or he’d scorch them underneath.
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