Did the Detroit Lions get the building blocks they need?
By Robert Jones
Filling a couple more needs
Day three of the NFL draft starts with being woken up from the best sleep I’ve had in a week. Apparently, my daughter was sent on the mission to make sure I’m still alive. It kind of seems like my labored breathing while asleep would’ve confirmed that.
I suppose it’s alright because I did sleep in and the start of the fourth round is fast approaching.
Today the picks will be fast and furious. The Lions only have two selections remaining unless they make a trade.
Almost on cue, the Lions do make a trade.
First Brad Holmes adds a receiver which many have been waiting for as they select Amon-Ra St. Brown of USC.
St. Brown is a very intriguing pick because he has the skills to have gone higher, but some occasional lapses may have cost him. The former Trojan is an outstanding route runner and does a very nice job of setting up defenders with double-moves and creating separation.
Despite some drops, St. Brown has very reliable hands and tracks the ball as well as any receiver in the draft. When he is focused he can catch anything and his ability to run after the catch is a plus. One would guess that the Lions will probably use St. Brown mostly in the slot, but wherever he lines up he has the ability to make plays.
This is a very nice get for the Lions offense, especially at a position of need, and Detroit doesn’t stop there as they trade up with the Cleveland Browns for the very next selection. In the process they deal away their fifth-round pick for this year and a fourth-round pick from next year to acquire the eighth selection, number 113 overall, of the fourth round and a seventh-round pick for this year as well, number 257.
The Lions then use the pick to fortify another need as they select Purdue linebacker, Derrick Barnes.
This another solid player and he has a motor that doesn’t stop. Two years ago Barnes was used on the outside and in pass situations was moved to end, where he collected 7.5 sacks. Last year he was moved to inside linebacker and didn’t make an impact in the Boilermaker pass rush.
However, Barnes is an explosive athlete and has the ability to cover ground and find ball carriers. One would suspect that in Detroit he will line up on the outside and will also be asked to contribute to the pass rush off the edge. But his versatility will allow the Lions to move him around and still contribute.
Now barring another trade, the Lions have one pick left.
As it turned out Brad Holmes would not make any more draft-day deals. Much later, as the 2021 draft was down to its last couple picks, the Lions made their final selection as they picked Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson.
This was not necessarily a need pick, but it could certainly go under the heading of best available. Jefferson is a productive north/south runner who could break tackles. He isn’t considered to be explosive or have the type of high-end speed the NFL looks for, but he broke many long runs at Oregon State and he was rarely caught from behind.
It would seem that Jefferson will need to become a contributor on special teams to make the Lions roster. Especially given a backfield that already has the likes of D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, and Kerryon Johnson in it.
And with the pick of Jermar Jefferson, the draft came to an end only two selections later. It wasn’t a huge draft haul the Lions brought in, but was it a good one? That is the question to be debated.