The Detroit Lions will look a lot different than they did last season.
Thanks to a busy offseason, the Lions have a new general manager in former Rams director of college scouting Brad Holmes, a new head coach in former Lions tight end Dan Campbell and a new starting quarterback after the Lions flipped Matthew Stafford with Jared Goff in the biggest trade of the offseason.
This team is clearly rebuilding and has needs all across the board. There’s a lot of unknowns to figure out for the Lions over the next few years, but nailing their first-round pick at No. 7 is a big step in the right direction.
For the purposes of this exercise, we are assuming the Lions are not trading down, although there have been rumors that the Lions are trading down in the first round with a team in love with a quarterback like Justin Fields or Mac Jones.
While the defense has a lot of holes and was statistically worse than the 0-16 team’s defensive unit, this is a deep draft filled with linebackers that can be taken in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Here are three offensive players that could make an impact right away with the Lions.
Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida
If Lions fans were present at this year’s draft, they would likely boo the selection of Pitts simply because he’s another tight end taken with a high draft pick.
Back in 2014, the Lions drafted tight end Eric Ebron with the No. 10 pick.
Ebron was fine with the Lions, but with six Pro Bowlers (Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller, Zack Martin and C.J. Mosely) going in six of the next seven picks, that pick in hindsight feels like a huge disappointment.
The Lions also used their first-round pick two years ago on Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, who did make the Pro Bowl last year and may prove to be the team’s first option in the passing game this year.
Pitts would not disappoint for Lions fans, as he should not even be seen as a tight end, just as an elite pass catcher with tremendous athleticism. After all, he did run an unofficial 4.44 at Florida’s Pro Day.
Pitts runs routes like a wide receiver, but has the size to not get pushed off course by bigger defensive backs. He has the size to own slot corners and the speed to blaze by opposing linebackers.
Pairing Pitts with Hockenson gives the Lions one of the best tight end groups in the league, as both can be fixtures of the Lions passing game and make Jared Goff’s life a lot easier.
Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Oregon
While it feels like half the league obsessed with the quarterbacks that could go at the top of this draft, it’s not crazy to think that Sewell could be the best player in this draft.
Sewell has NFL size, has incredibly good footwork for a 330-pound man, has an explosive initial punch, and can block defenders at the second level with ease.
It seems unlikely for a tackle like Sewell to fall to the Lions, but with the Niners trading up to the 3rd overall pick likely means they are taking a quarterback there, that leaves only three teams between the Lions and Sewell.
Adding Sewell gives the Lions flexibility with their offensive line, as adding Sewell and playing him at right tackle would allow fellow Oregon Duck Tyrell Crosby to slide to his natural guard position and compete with Hal Vaitai for the right guard spot.
The new Lions regime wants to embrace the grind and win ugly, and an offensive line of Sewell, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Crosby/Vaitai is an elite group that can help protect Goff and improve the Lions running game.
Ja’Marr Chase, Wide Receiver, LSU
This year’s draft is not only headlined by some elite quarterbacks, but there are a number of wide receivers and TE’s in De’Vonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase who could all be No. 1 options on a formidable NFL offense.
Chase has a chance to be the best out of that whole bunch, as his combination of top speed, recognition of defensive coverages, and ability to control the game gives him a chance to be special.
Chase is a popular pick for the Lions in mock drafts, as after losing Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola in free agency, the Lions could use a go-to receiver to allow defenses to respect the play-action.
The Lions have a lot of needs, and with how bad the defense was last season, it would feel weird to not see them invest in a quality defender with their top-10 pick.
Even though they have a lot of needs, Chase has the potential to be a generational wide receiver who can help whatever quarterback the Lions draft to be Goff’s eventual replacement immensely.
With all the hype surrounding the quarterbacks in this draft, if Chase falls through the cracks and is still available after six picks, the Detroit Lions would be getting a franchise talent who could become a fan favorite in a matter of weeks come September.