By Eric Woodyard
With the 2021 NFL draft less than a week away, new Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes says the franchise is open to trading its No. 7 overall pick.
“Yeah, there has been discussion with other teams,” Holmes said during Friday’s pre-draft news conference. “I will keep those in-house, but there has been discussions.”
Holmes noted that nothing is set in stone at this point.
After a 5-11 finish to the 2020 season, in which Detroit ranked last in overall team defense, the Lions have entered a complete rebuild.
Beyond Holmes, the pre-draft process has been a collaborative effort with first-year head coach Dan Campbell and his coaching staff as well as key executives. They’re looking to build depth on both sides of the ball, which is what Holmes considers to be of “utmost importance.”
“At 7, we do have a cluster of players that we’re comfortable with picking, but at the same time we will be very prepared and also willing to move in either direction,” Holmes said. “So, we’re still open in those regards, but there are a cluster of players that we would be comfortable with.”
Detroit used its pick at No. 3 in the 2020 draft to select Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, who was limited to nine games with 47 tackles and one interception. Although some might consider his rookie season to be a disappointment, the team is committed to bringing the best out of him in Year 2.
Holmes also said that the previous success or lack thereof of draft picks at certain positions within the franchise, such as wide receivers or tight ends, will not cloud his vision of whom he sees as the best fit. As big as on-the-field strengths and weaknesses are in the evaluation process, culture is also big for the new Lions regime.
Holmes expects at least 10 people to be in the war room on draft day once official decisions are made.
“More so from a culture fit, regardless of scheme, and obviously scheme does play a part, but at the end of the day, if the player has certain standards of toughness, passion, if a player has grit, that doesn’t have anything to do with if a guy is a press corner or an off-zone quarters corner, or if a guy is a 3-4 rush backer,” Holmes said. “Does a guy play hard or he does not? Does he have a high motor or does he [not]? Does he take plays off, does he not? Does he love football, does he not?
“So, those are the standards that we look for, but having that grit, passion for football that’s at an elite level, those are pretty much the standards that are the fits, more so of if the guy is just a scheme fit.”