Detroit Lions’ 2021 Draft shows rebuild is a marathon, not a sprint
With the dust settling on the 2021 NFL draft and over a dozen UDFAs signed, it’s time to make an assessment of what the Detroit Lions did this past weekend. When the draft was drafted, there was a broad consensus among Lions fans that the team would not be good in 2021. While it’s easy to say, the draft was more difficult to face.
There were many holes in the Lions roster. They needed a top recipient, a nickel starting corner, at least one security, and all the linebacker help one could ask for. Some crazy Lions wanted the team to make their first quarterback pick. What the Lions actually got was a team full of value with no sex appeal.
It was like Brad Holmes walked into a completely empty kitchen with only $ 20 for the bare minimums and passed out the cheap food that can be turned into delicious cuisine. When I was broke in my early twenties, I made creamy chicken ramen noodles with some sliced chicken pieces and Italian seasoning. Good food for $ 3.50. Holmes made a fancy dish out of nothing. The best thing about this dish is that it will feed you for a long time.
The Lions filled the closet with athletic talent which, if things go right, can contribute at a high level for some time. By the way, when I say sporty, I mean sporty.
After all, the clearest thing we learned from the NFL draft is that rebuilding the Lions will not be a quick rebuild, and despite what Brad Holmes said at the start of his tenure, it will not be a rebuild. This is going to be a good old fashioned Philadelphia 76s style process that fans will trust and everything.
There’s a reason Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell have such long contracts. It’s because they take it slow like Usher. This is about building a team bit by bit. The Lions have decided to first use picks like Penei Sewell, Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike to address the urgent issues. All the guys who will be working in the trenches and off the ball. Then there is value with options in Derrick Barnes and Ifeatu Melifonwu. Both guys are capable of several things with the athleticism they bring with them.
There was no greater indication that this team was more focused on the future than the present than on day two of the selection. With talented players in major needs positions, the Lions stuck to their board and took on two defensive tackles, although that position was lower on the list of immediate needs (but is certainly still a long-term need). Holmes explained his actions several times, saying he simply refuses to hand over a talented player because he has needs elsewhere.
“We’re trying not to get anchored in positions,” said Holmes. “We’re trying to make sure we get the best football player.”
On Day 3, Holmes made it clear that this is a philosophy he shares no matter what the Lions roster is. However, if he admits an offensive attack is facing them in next year’s draft, they can look elsewhere with Taylor Decker and Taylor Decker to see how firmly Sewell is anchored as the team’s tackles for the future. In other words, there aren’t many positions that you can avoid right now. In the future? We will see.
Speaking of the future, the Lions currently have at least seven draft picks, including two first classics in 2022 (plus three equalizing picks expected to come) and two more first-round picks in 2023. It’s time to go out and pick The playmakers who can assist Jared Goff or the defensive studs who can bolster the defense.
The Lions will also have more than $ 30 million to spend for the next off-season after taking their lumps with a dead cap of over $ 40 million earlier this year.
Speaking of Jared Goff, maybe the last thing we learned about this past weekend and after the free agency is that Jared Goff is the future Lions quarterback and they plan on building a team around him. Every step the Lions have taken this off-season has shown that the Lions are trying to build a Rams-like team that will absorb the potential blows if Jared Goff does not show the improvement that some believe is under Anthony Lynn and Mark Brunell could show.
When Goff doesn’t work, Lions are fully prepared for a contingency plan. You can simply draft a quarterback for the next year, or you can jump into the latest fade of quarterback trading that is gripping the NFL. I mean, even Aaron Rodgers could be traded. We’re all focused on getting the next Lions quarterback through the draft, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
Before we get out of here, we need to address the pessimists in the room and sympathize with their thoughts. What if that doesn’t work? It is certainly not the status quo that everyone is used to. So many other teams focused on attracting their playmakers and potential Superstars while the Lions began the slow build. If this doesn’t work out here, will the Lions be any further in the dust than before? It’s a tough question at this point.
You can’t help but feel like the Lions front office has the owner’s time and understanding on their side. With that in mind, there is still an opportunity to go back and correct any errors in this draft.
With that out of the way, it’s hard not to be optimistic about this design. Especially when so many experts like Joe Marino or Ross Tucker love what Detroit has done. It will be fun to see how it all pays off. The Lions have taken a hell of a first step. Let’s see what they do next.