The Lions are ready to rebuild under Dan Campbell and here’s how Detroit can kick start that process via the 2021 NFL Draft.
Fans in Detroit have every reason to be optimistic after finally being rid of Matt Patricia. That doesn’t mean things will improve immediately under the watchful eye of Dan Campbell. It could be a lengthy rebuilding process in the Motor City.
The transition at quarterback from Matthew Stafford to Jared Goff isn’t going to help the Lions win more games in 2021. The point of that trade was for Detroit to amass draft capital to aid their future prospects. The odds seem to favor Goff getting the chance to be the team’s starter next season, so Detroit fans shouldn’t look for a quarterback early in April’s draft.
The franchise’s biggest needs heading into the offseason are at wide receiver, edge rusher, and linebacker. NFL free agency could cost the Lions several starting wide receivers. That’s why it projects to be the position the franchise will address in Round 1.
Smith’s dominant performance down the stretch at Alabama this year has him positioned to be one of the top receivers selected in the draft. Ja’Marr Chase has the edge to be the first wideout off the board, but in this scenario, Smith lands at WR2.
There are questions about his lack of size at the next level, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being a successful playmaker on the outside. He’s got quality speed and exceptional route-running abilities that allow him to create separation against all varieties of opposing cornerbacks.
Smith should slot into Detroit’s starting lineup immediately to become one of Goff’s favorite weapons. Just how many targets he carves out will depend on the potential returns of guys like Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola.