Why Detroit Lions take Alabama's DeVonta Smith in Mel Kiper Jr.'s new NFL mock draft

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Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press
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Now that Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are officially gone, does anyone really think the Detroit Lions will enter the 2021 season with a top 3 receiver room of Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Quintez Cephus?

If you don't, then look no further than April 29, when the Lions — led by first-year general manager Brad Holmes and first-year head coach Dan Campbell — pick seventh in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

By now, you're probably familiar with the top receiver names, with three potentially worthy of a top-10 pick in LSU's Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama's Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and his Crimson Tide teammate Jaylen Waddle.

In ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s new mock draft released Tuesday (subscription required), he has the Lions nabbing Smith as the top target for quarterback Jared Goff.

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Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates after defeating Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Jan. 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates after defeating Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Jan. 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

At 6 feet 1 and 175 pounds, Smith's skinny body type as been debated plenty, and we wrote about Smith on Monday, but there's no denying his electric career at Alabama, which included catching the winning touchdown in overtime of the national championship game from Tua Tagovailoa as a freshman, and dominating last season en route a second title.

"I would say this pick is likely going to the best wideout on the board, and Smith would be a tremendous choice," Kiper wrote. "The Heisman Trophy winner doesn't have the biggest frame, but you shouldn't underestimate him. He is one of the best route runners I've scouted, and he beats any corner put in front of him. Detroit is clearly rebuilding, so I also wouldn't be surprised if it trades down to pick up more draft capital."

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Kiper has Chase going one spot higher at No. 6 to Philadelphia, another receiver-needy team with a young quarterback in Jalen Hurts.

NFL.com's draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said recently Chase would be a "home run pick" for the Lions, while acknowledging all three wideouts would do well to fill the void left by Golladay and Jones.

"I don’t think they can make a wrong pick there," he said in early March.

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Kiper has quarterbacks being taken with the first four picks, then has the Cincinnati Bengals taking Florida tight end Kyle Pitts — which would be big if true, because it would push receivers down the board to teams like the Eagles and Lions.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Why Detroit Lions take DeVonta Smith in Mel Kiper's new NFL mock draft