What are the Detroit Lions biggest draft needs for 2021?

Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /
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Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions
Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions defensive line

There’s not much that the defense does that you would want. They give up a lot of touchdowns on the ground. They give up a lot of yards through the air and on the ground, they’re pretty bad all-around.

We could make this all rhyme and it would sound like a Dr. Suess book that your children would cry about. We won’t, though, that would be ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’

They don’t get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as evidenced by their team’s 19.9% pressure percentage, ranking them 20th via Pro Football Reference’s advanced defensive stats. That combines hurries, knockdowns, and sacks per dropback. In other words, less than once every five dropbacks, the defense has an effect on the passing game of their opponents.

Good teams change the way that their opponents pass in more than 1-out of-4 dropbacks; the Pittsburgh Steelers have an NFL-leading 34.3% pressure rate and are undefeated. It’s hard to not notice the strong correlation.

The defense gives up 133.4 yards-per-game on the ground and that starts with the line. Danny Shelton, Nick Williams, John Penisini, Da’Shawn Hand, and Romeo Okwara as a unit have just not gotten the job done. Trey Flowers is part of the group, too, but has been on injured reserve.

Everson Griffen was recently signed to a one-year deal and Austin Bryant has barely played. Jashon Cornell and John Atkins are both on the roster for next year after being hurt during camp and opting out of the 2020 season, respectively.

Marvin Wilson, Jay Tufele, Jaylen Twyman, Tyler Shelvin, Jordan Davis, and Christian Barmore are some interior linemen to know for the upcoming draft. If they decide to invest in edge rushers (HINT: they should) Greg Rousseau and Quincy Roche (mentioned with linebackers), Jason Oweh, Kwitty Paye, and Joseph Ossai will be some names in play early.

There aren’t many prospects that get mentioned in the top fifteen picks in this upcoming draft, so naming an ideal candidate is tough. Jay Tufele, Greg Rousseau, and Kwitty Paye have all been mentioned but until the combine and draft process shakes out, it’s difficult to name just one. They could all be there for the Lions when making their pick.

Our preference is for an edge rusher but the Lions need help collapsing the pocket from the inside, too. Jay Tufele is a versatile player from Southern California who can play both the 3-tech and 1-tech roles; a 3-tech attacks an offense from between the guard and tackle, whereas the 1-tech lines up between the center and guard.

Generally, those are two different skillsets but the 6-foot-2, 315-pound Tufele has experience at both positions at USC. His quickness and strength have served him well although critics would like to see him develop more moves as a pass-rusher.

Off of the edge, Greg Rosseau is inexperienced but talented. The Hurricanes product has great size and burst and is used in multiple ways by “The U.”  Rosseau is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound redshirt sophomore that can play with his hand down rushing from the interior or from the edge. Rosseau has also dropped into coverage where his fluidity and movement skills show that he is capable of doing more than just rushing a quarterback.