The Lions apparently like their set of linebackers better than you, I or really anyone else do (h/t to Jeff Risdon of Lions Wire), to the point they probably won’t draft one. Given there will only be one or two of them on the field at a time most of the time, maybe there’s something to that.
But here in the sixth round, I couldn’t turn away from Jackson. Even at a smaller school like Appalachian State, it’s hard to argue with his level of production.
2021: 119 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, six sacks, five pass breakups, one interception
2020: 87 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, six pass breakups, two interceptions, one fumble recovery
2019: 60 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two pass breakups
Jackson could stick on special teams for the Lions this year, with an eye on a bigger role in 2023.
The Lions legitimately have one of the best offensive lines in the league when everyone’s healthy. But right guard, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s bloated contract not backed up by high-level play, is a bit of a question mark looking down the road. Getting younger and cheaper there is a thing to certainly have on the radar.
Newman-Johnson played in 47 games and started 37 over five seasons at Baylor. He started all 14 games at left guard last year, but over a full normal season in 2019 he started eight of the 10 games he played at right guard. In 2020, he started one game at center. So he’s got some interior versatility.
Johnson could provide interior depth, then possibly replace Vaitai at right guard in 2023 or 2024 if the Lions go that direction. For a final pick, in the sixth round, that’s a pretty good chance to take.