What are the Detroit Lions biggest draft needs for 2021?

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /
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Julian Okwara, Detroit Lion
Julian Okwara, Detroit Lions (Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions linebackers

The Detroit Lions have a short-term starter in Jamie Collins and a couple of backup-caliber players in Christian Jones and Jahlani Tavai. Tavai has been poor through two seasons (current 32.5 Pro Football Focus grade) but could improve as a young player. However, the unit is in dire need of upgrades across the board.

The cupboard is bare behind those three players. Collins is still playing good football and has always been an athletic specimen. He needs two new wingmen and depth around him, though.

The Lions did draft Julian Okwara as a Jack (outside) linebacker who can rush the passer; they claim that Austin Bryant is a similarly talented player, too, although he has not consistently seen the field in his first two seasons, having only played in six games.

In a best-case scenario, the Lions need 2-3 linebackers who can play in whatever system is brought in by the next regime. The linebacking unit has been a sore spot for years and recent draft assets have not fixed the problem, yet.

Linebackers are typically not Top-10 drafted players but the great ones have been. Gregory Rousseau, Micah Parsons, Dylan Moses, and Quincy Roche are all players said to be worth being selected in Round 1 of the NFL Draft this year.

Parsons has the look of a do-everything linebacker with pass-rush skills to boot but he is another Top-5 player. Dylan Moses, though, could be on the board and at 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, he’s a sideline-to-sideline wrecking ball with experience and speed that could patrol the middle of the field. That could keep Collins at Jack or Will and hopefully Okwara at the other.