Lions' Day 3 picks graded above average by NFL Draft analysts

Gerry Ahern
The Detroit News

The Lions wrapped up their 2021 NFL Draft class Saturday in Cleveland with three selections.

The Day 3 picks were met mostly favorably by draft analysts nationally. Adding some skill-position punch and defensive depth were seen as proper steps. 

Derrick Barnes brings Big Ten toughness from Purdue.

Detroit selected USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown with the 112th pick in the fourth round. It traded up to nab Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes with the No. 113 choice minutes later.

With the third-to-last pick in the seventh and final round, the Lions snapped up Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson.

A better-than-average final day for first-year general manager Brad Holmes seemed to be the consensus.

CBS Sports draft evaluator Chris Trapasso gave the St. Brown move a C+, writing:

"One of the better route runners in the class. And flashes hand-catching capabilities away from his frame. But some concentration drops and lacks as a sudden, explosive athlete. Lions had to draft a WR eventually." 

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski went higher, rating St. Brown a B+.

"Amon-Ra St. Brown can work from the slot or outside the numbers. He knows how to sell routes and utilize different gears depending on play design. He projects as an excellent possession target," Sobleski wrote. "After two days of fortifying the trenches, the Lions filled their biggest need. St. Brown can immediately step in as the slot receiver, with Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman working outside the numbers."

Barnes garnered a C from Sobleski.

"The Lions can keep Barnes at middle linebacker, while Jahlani Tavai can be moved all over the front seven to fully capitalize on his skill set." he wrote. "Whatever the Lions decide to do with their second line of defense, Barnes is yet another example of Detroit prioritizing toughness with this new regime." 

B as in Barnes opined Trapasso.

"Shorter, stocky off-ball linebacker with good short-area quickness," he wrote. "Crazy long arms. And crushes it as a pass-rusher off the edge. Fun, unique prospect. More defense for Detroit."

Sobleski didn't think much of the Jefferson play, rating it a D.

"With D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams already on the roster, Jermar Jefferson probably won’t get many carries in the Lions offense. Maybe the Lions will move on from Williams after this season. At best, Jefferson will be stuck as the team’s third running back," he wrote.

Trapasso begged to differ, offering a B+ on the Beavers running back.

"Best season was freshman year in 2018," he wrote. "Vision for stretch plays is outstanding. Not a make-you-miss type nor is he fast, but Jefferson wins by reading blocks awesomely."

Other analysts' thoughts on the Lions' haul:

►Mark Dulgerian, (no grades): "St. Brown walks into a pretty dire wide receiver room as a rookie and should expect to get a legitimate shot to crack the starting lineup. He adds the toughness Dan Campbell is looking for in his team and should also contribute as a returner.

 "Detroit lost some linebacker depth in free agency so they address a need here. Barnes adds range and explosiveness as well as inside/outside versatility depending on scheme."

► John Maakaron, on St. Brown (B+): "True to his word, Lions general manager Brad Holmes has been willing to let the board come to him, and has been selecting players he feels will complement the other members of the roster. He succeeded with the selection of St. Brown."  

►Logan Lamorandier, on Barnes (B): "In the run game, he is a very explosive downhill player. When he gets on track, he can be a missile, with some serious thumping ability. Barnes seems like a throwback-type that Detroit front-office special assistant Chris Spielman would love."

Twitter: @GerryAhern30