This might seem odd, and a little early for the Lions to take an offensive tackle but Niang offer huge upside at the tackle position, and should be able to sit behind incumbent tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner for at least a season, giving him time to learn from NFL coaches and acclimate to the NFL level without feeling the pressure to excel right away.
PFF’s Michael Renner pointed out that Niang may not have conventional pass sets, but it works.
"“Niang’s pass sets won’t win beauty contests, but they somehow get the job done consistently. On 1,027 pass-blocking snaps in his career, Niang has allowed only 32 pressures. He’s got tree trunks for arms that deaden edge rushers in their tracks.”"
Going back to his pressure rate, Niang had a pressure allowed rate of 3.12 percent in his college career and was on pace in 2019 to post the same pressures allowed rate until he was injured and shelved for the rest of the season. Those numbers are impressive, and just to give you some context, if you compare his pressure rate(s) to some NFL offensive lineman single postseason pressures allowed rates here you go:
As you can see, if you compare his 2019 season pressures rate allowed, where he gave up six pressures on 191 pass-block snaps, he would fall in ninth place. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect comparison, but it does provide some context on how impressive those numbers are.
Niang is praised for and known for his pass protection, but he also has a nasty streak in him when blocking for the ground game. You can find numerous clips on twitter of him bullying people around while run-blocking.
Drafting Niang towards the end of round two would be a great pick for the Lions as they have time to groom him and give him an entire year of coaching, unless injuries occur, before running him out with the starters.
Giving him a year to refine technique would do him wonders and could end up allowing him to succeed as soon as he is promoted to the starting tackle spot. This would likely happen a year from now when the Lions are likely to move on from at least one, and possibly both, of their current tackles.