Lions trade down, get help on defense in latest Mel Kiper mock draft for ESPN
As part of the team's rebuild, the more draft capital the Detroit Lions can acquire, the better. More assets, means more opportunities to address the plethora of roster holes, particularly throughout a defense that was the worst in franchise history one year ago.
So, yeah, there's some obvious appeal to Mel Kiper's latest mock draft. In it, he has the Lions trading down five spots from No. 7, picking up some extra draft resources and addressing that woeful defense with Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
"With the Lions moving down in my mock trade with the 49ers, that takes them out of the quarterback race but gives them extra draft capital," Kiper writes. "Jared Goff was always going to be on their roster in 2021 because of his salary, but he might not be the long-term solution. And I don't expect Detroit to improve next season, which means it could have another valuable pick (plus it has the Rams' first-round picks in 2022 and 2023). The Lions allowed 6.3 yards per play under former coach Matt Patricia last season, which ranked last in the league. They need help on defense. Parsons is a versatile linebacker with some pass-rush upside."
Parsons, like many top prospects in this class, opted out of the 2020 season. In 2019, his lone season as a starter, he was a consensus All-American. In 13 games, he racked up 109 tackles (14 for a loss), five sacks, five pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
At 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Parsons has an ideal build for a position where the Lions clearly need help after striking out with Jarrad Davis and Jahlani Tavai in recent drafts.
Lions coach Dan Campbell has raved about the impact middle linebacker Demario Davis has had in New Orleans. Signed as a free agent in 2018, he has earned All-Pro honors each of the past two seasons as the Saints have allowed 21.3 and 21.1 points per game, respectively.
Parsons, specifically, does have some character concerns that will need to be evaluated heading into the draft. He was allegedly involved in a locker room fight with a former teammate, along with accusations of hazing.
In Kiper's mock, he doesn't specifically state what the Lions would be getting back in the swap with the San Francisco 49ers. In 2018, the exact scenario played out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sending the No. 7 pick to Buffalo in exchange for No. 12 and two second-rounders (No. 53 and No. 56).
The 49ers are scheduled to select No. 43 overall in the second-round this year, but if the demand is high enough for Detroit's selection, it's possible they could coax a 2022 first-rounder in trade talks.