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Even though the Lions finished the 2021 NFL Draft with the third to last pick, they stayed busy on the phones signing 13 UDFA to round out their roster.
Here are the 13 players and what they can bring to the table in Detroit
Jonathan Adams, WR, Arkansas State
Adams finished his career at Arkansas State with 2,306 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns, earning the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year award in his senior season. He makes his money by making the tough contested catches, notching 23 contested catches, best in college football, and tied for the lead with 15 deep catches, only behind first-round selection Devonta Smith. He can abuse corners with his massive catch radius and superb body control, making one highlight after another. He does have average speed and lack of consistency leading to 11 dropped passes his senior season–the most in college football–and ran a limited route tree. Even with the negatives against him, he can be a deep threat that wins those 50/50 balls.
The Lions need to stock the wide receiver room, only taking one in the draft in Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fourth round, but he will mainly be used in the slot. The Lions gave Adams $90,000 in guaranteed money to come to Detroit, so they must feel he has a shot at contributing to the team.
D’Angelo Amos, S, Virginia
Amos was a graduate transfer from James Madison to Virginia, where in his lone season he recorded 47 tackles, three pass breakups, and two interceptions. In an interview, Amos noted that the Lions were interested in him after they initially met him at an All-Star event in Texas in January and had constant contact with the Lions until the draft. Amos has also contacted James Madison alum Dean Marlowe, who the Lions signed this past offseason.
The Lions didn’t address safety in the draft even though it was one of the holes that needed answering; Amos can potentially be a depth piece with a good camp. Also, Amos is a very good return man, returning 1,259 punt yards along with five punt touchdowns, which may be his ticket to making the team.
Tavante Beckett, LB, Marshall
Beckett had a rocky start to begin his collegiate career. After his freshman season, he was dismissed from Virginia Tech, where he was charged with conspiracy to sell and possession of marijuana, but those charges were later dropped. He would transfer to Marshall, where he would earn C-USA Defensive Player of the Year his senior season, finishing the year with 90 tackles and no touchdowns allowed.
He has a strong nose for the football and can sniff through the traffic to find the ball carrier, but unfortunately, he is erratic and misses tackles. With his small stature for a typical linebacker, some see a move to safety will be his best bet to make in the NFL. He is not the most athletic, but there is no denying his playmaking ability, and with coaching, he could carve out a role.
Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas
Boyd is a feel-good story coming of JUCO to find success at Arkansas, where he led the team in rushing in 2018 and 2019 but chose to opt out in 2020 after six games. He is a very patient runner allowing the block to develop and attack the crease making a weapon in the open field. He has to rely on his instincts more due to a lack of finesse and explosiveness. He does have some receiving capabilities, but he has multiple drops in the process and needs to work on his pass protection.
With his straight-line speed capability, he will be best utilized as a role player to get you those few extra yards, but nothing more. The Lions running back room seems set at the moment with Swift, Williams, and Johnson. He will have to compete with seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson, but even then, that might not be enough to separate himself from the pack.
Jake Hausmann, TE, Ohio State
Hausmann had a lackluster career while with the Buckeyes catching only three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. He was mostly regulated to special teams and utilized for his blocking. Unfortunately, with the lack of vitals to go off of and his poor testing numbers, it seems like Hausmann is destined as a camp body.
Drake Jackson, C, Kentucky
Jackson was a surprise non-draftee due to his center starting experience with his time at Kentucky earning a starting spot his freshman year while playing 45 straight games. He has strong intelligence, sound hands and can clear lanes going into the second level.
The problem being with Jackson is his size with only 31” arms and 8 ¼ in hands, which hinders his position versatility to guard, putting him as a center-only type player. Now the Lions only have Evan Brown behind Frank Ragnow for center depth, but Jackson is smart and a technician to find a role along the Lions offensive line.
Jerry Jacobs, CB, Arkansas
It was bad timing for Jacobs to solidify his status as a prospect when he tore his ACL in 2019 and then opted out after he transferred to Arkansas putting significant jeopardy to his draft stock. If he continued the trajectory he was on in 2018 when he notched twelve pass breakups and four interceptions while at Arkansas State, it could’ve been a different story. He is a very aggressive player but lacks the fundamentals to utilize his full potential. He will need to get coached to iron out the wrinkles, but the potential is there to turn the corner.
Tommy Kraemer, G, Norte Dame
Kraemer is a versatile offensive lineman seeing time at tackle and guard during his time at Norte Dame, where he started 39 games for the Fighting Irish. He looks like your prototypical guard with strong hands that can control the line of scrimmage from just looking at him. His downfall is his footwork and technique that doesn’t allow him to give off blocks and handle athletic players. He has the grit to make it on the Lions squad that needs guard depth.
Javon McKinley, WR, Norte Dame
McKinley seemed to be on the top of the list of UDFAs the Lions wanted to go after, considering they gave McKinley a cool $100,000 to come to Detroit. It was a rough go for him to start his collegiate career with his long injury list, 2016- Missed 6 games (broken fibula), 2017- Out for the season, 2018-Limited to four games. 2019-Missed the final four games (foot sprain). In his final season, he was able to play the whole season while leading Norte Dame in receiving with 717 yards with three touchdowns.
He wins off of contested catches and strong body control and ball skills. If it weren’t for the injuries, McKinley might have seen better pastures, but he is coming to a Lions receiver squad in desperate need of bodies.
Dedrick Mills, RB, Nebraska
Mills was Nebraska’s leading rusher in 2019, where he rushed for 745 yards, but then he saw his 2020 campaign shorted with injuries but finished the season with 396 yards and three touchdowns. He is very similar to Mills on the profile type with straight-line speed, navigate the gaps, and his ability to make cuts with a strong vision.
On the flip side, he lacks the agility to change direction and top-end speed to get to the next gear once he clears the lanes and also not a strong receiver even though he received targets with the Huskers. If the Lions decided to keep a fourth running back, Mills and Boyd would have to battle it out.
AJ Parker, CB, Kansas State
Parker found a spot as the nickel corner with Kansas State starting every game starting in his sophomore season. Even though he might not be an explosive athlete, he manages to make plays on the ball defending 24 passes along with six interceptions in his career. He can read the offense and get in the passing lanes and off coverage with his strong instincts.
With his size, though, he sometimes has issues getting through blocks to make plays on the ball carrier, which tends to be his downfall. The Lions starting nickel corner is Corn Elder, and if Parker can overcome his shortfalls, he could find his way as a depth player.
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
During his time at Wake Forest, Surratt lined up inside and outside and before he was sidelined with a shoulder injury includes leading the Power 5 schools with 1,001 yards and eleven touchdowns. He is a massive player at 6’2’ and 209 pounds, and he uses every bit of strength alength to abuse defenders for contested catches.
He won’t be the fastest player on, the field and his route tree is very limited, which might keep him as a big slot and red zone option for the Lions, where he can compete with Quintez Cephus for potential reps.
Brock Wright, TE, Norte Dame
Like Hausmann, Wright saw very limited action during his stint at Norte Dame, catching only seven passes during his four seasons. He mostly got his playing time as a blocking tight end, but he shows he does have the athleticism (9.21 RAS) to ne utilized in the passing game if called upon. It seems Dan Campbell is trying to recreate a version of himself with these two blocking tight ends. If Wright can outshine players down the tight end depth chart, Wright could find his way on the roster.