What are the Detroit Lions biggest draft needs for 2021?

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /
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Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions receivers

Regardless of who is drafting for the Lions, they need help at wide receiver. Lots of help. Assuming that Kenny Golladay is brought back on some kind of a deal, the only other player signed for 2021 is Quintez Cephus that played in 2020. Geronimo Allison is technically on the roster for next year, too.

Again, if the team trades Stafford it makes little sense to spend big money on Golladay. If Stafford returns, though, it would make no sense to not bring back his best weapon.

Could Golladay’s lack of availability have had something to do with Quinn not extending his contract before the season began? With Quinn gone, perhaps Golladay may be talked into staying if he was considering leaving during the next free agency period.

If Matthew Stafford comes back, that’s what he comes back to. There are other skilled players in running back D’Andre Swift and tight end T.J. Hockenson but no one else outside. Of the current players, only slot receiver Danny Amendola and tight end T.J. Hockenson rank in the Top-25 in average yards of separation according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats.

Neither Golladay (1.8 yards per route) nor Marvin Jones, Jr. (2.6 yards per route) rank in the Top 100. Hockenson is leading the Lions with 530 yards receiving right now, followed by Jones with 503, both have 5 touchdowns.

The crop of receivers is not as good as 2020, partly due to the depth of that class but there will be options for the Detroit Lions early and later in the draft.

Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman, Rondale Moore, and Jaylen Waddle are all first-round prospects. While none are the huge, outside target like Calvin Johnson or the Atlanta Falcon’s Julio Jones, they are all gifted with speed. Moore and Waddle are also more suited to slot duty, like “The Cheetah”, Tyreek Hill, who is also under 6-foot.

Other than Chase, a likely top-five pick, any number of the other candidates could be sitting there at nine. DeVonta Smith, at just under 6-foot-1, is a burner from Alabama. His teammate, Jaylen Waddle, is coming off of a serious ankle injury but has reported 4.27-second sprint times in the forty-yard dash; they highlight what could still be a good first day at wide receiver.