The Detroit Lions have plenty needs, and that’s true considering the fact they will select safely within the top 10 of the upcoming draft this year.
While the team’s new front office and coaching staff will have plenty to say about the direction they take, a consensus could quietly be forming about the position the Lions should select in the coming months in the prognostication community.
Yet another mock draft has the Lions opting to go with a wide receiver from the SEC. Instead of the usual names, however, a new one enters the mix. Pro Football Focus writer Anthony Treash recently put together a new mock draft in which he has the Lions picking up Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle with the seventh pick this coming spring.
“Detroit is in a tough spot with wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola all slated to hit free agency. The good news is that they are in a position to grab one of the most electric wide receivers college football has ever seen.
Waddle missed most of the 2020 season due to a fractured ankle, but the Bama receiver was truly an explosive play waiting to happen in the four games he appeared in. He generated a Power 5-best 4.68 yards per route run, averaged 10.7 yards after the catch, teamed up for a perfect passer rating of 158.3 on his 29 targets and hauled in 329 deep receiving yards. The latter still ranks 13th among all Power 5 receivers despite appearing just four times all year.
Waddle reportedly ran a 4.37 40-yard dash coming out of high school. He is a threat to house it anytime he gets the ball with that speed and explosiveness.”
If Waddle is healthy, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him become one of the best wideouts available and a potential lock to be a top 10 selection. The Lions would be gambling on Waddle being completely healthy, but given what he’s done in the past in terms of speed, that might not be that bad a gamble.
Jaylen Waddle Highlights and Stats
Even though Waddle might not be on the forefront of everyone’s mind at this point given he missed much of the 2020 season, there’s no question he is still a great player and capable of making a major different on the field. With 1,965 yards to his credit and 17 touchdowns, Waddle has been one of the better wideouts in the Alabama program lately. In 2020, he went down with an October ankle injury which cost him most of the season, but when the comeback happens, it could only prove that Waddle is one of the best young wideouts set to come out. Health will be a big determining factor on where Waddle ends up, but if he is healthy, a team like Detroit could quickly cash in as these highlights show.
There’s obviously no questioning the talent of Waddle when considering the whole picture, and assuming he’s healthy, he could join names like Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith as top wideouts for the impending NFL Draft.
Wideout Seen as Lions’ Need During 2021 NFL Draft
With the seventh pick, the Lions should be wide open when it comes to the 2021 draft thanks to the fact that they’ve addressed a ton of spots on both offense and defense recently within their selections. One of the most obvious spots of need would be the defensive line given Detroit’s constant lack of a consistent pass rush. The team could also use more young depth at the cornerback spot given the struggles there in relation to depth that have been greatly aided by injury. On offense, the Lions could use another young wideout such as Chase, Waddle or Smith, and while they might seem set at quarterback, there could always be a significant challenge to that moving forward given changes in direction of the front office which could lead to a change at that position.
If the Lions keep Matthew Stafford, the best way they could go about attacking the future with their quarterback would be adding a weapon like Waddle in order to help him and the passing game out for the future. His speed could be a game-changer for Detroit’s offense.
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