Detroit Lions trade down, pick defense in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest 2021 NFL mock draft

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Tyler J. Davis, Detroit Free Press
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Any Detroit Lions fans who imagine the current rebuild as general manager Brad Holmes hoarding draft picks like shares of Bitcoin, they'll love Mel Kiper Jr.'s newest mock draft.

Kiper, ESPN's longtime NFL draft, in his latest projection has the Lions dealing the No. 7 slot for multiple picks upcoming picks. He doesn't typically predict trades in his mocks but said the depth of the quarterback class this year changed his mind.

The San Francisco 49ers, desperate to find a difference-making passer to complement a star tight end and deep cast of running backs, trade up from No. 12 to take the Lions pick, according to Thursday's article. Kiper said in such a situation, Detroit can anticipate a return similar to what the 49ers (irony!) received when they traded the No. 2 pick to the Chicago Bears in 2017 who famously, or infamously, selected Mitchell Trubisky.

The 49ers with two of the picks they acquired from the Bears selected Solomon Thomas in 2017 and Fred Warner, an All-Pro last season in 2018. They later dealt the other two picks they received from Chicago.

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"We can look to the Mitchell Trubisky trade as one comp," Kiper writes, "but another could be the Steelers' move for Devin Bush in 2019, where they jumped 10 spots with the Broncos and had to give up the Nos. 20 and 52 picks, plus a third-round pick the following year," Kiper writes. "Yes, it's 10 spots, but the Lions should expect a similar return. "

Kiper has more trades (he predicts three for the first round) and insight in the full article here. With the hypothetical No. 12 pick, the Lions take Penn State's Micah Parsons. Parsons, a versatile 6-foot-2 linebacker, sat out the 2020 season but in 2019 and 2018 showcased his skills as a dynamic pass rusher.

Oct 19, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) reacts to a defensive play against the Michigan Wolverines during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons (11) reacts to a defensive play against the Michigan Wolverines during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Because of their new front office and impending rebuild, the Lions appear to have a litany of options for the No. 7 pick, spawning an assortment of different projections for what to do there. Detroit fielded this past season one of its worst defenses, statistically speaking, in franchise history so Kiper's projection would certainly help there.

Some mocks have them going with any one of three star SEC wideouts, while the Free Press' Dave Birkett projected a quarterback.

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And the combination of the Lions being locked into Jared Goff for a season with several competitive teams eyeing a new passer, other observers have advocated for the Lions trading down, such as Kiper has.

Holmes already received three draft picks in the deal that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Goff. If things pan out the way Kiper says, the Lions could be filthy rich when it comes to picks.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions trade down in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest NFL mock draft