Lions pass on Fields for 'explosive' WR in McShay's first mock

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The 2021 NFL Draft is 112 days away, which doesn't feel like such a long time. Between now and then, the Lions need to hire a new general manager and a new head coach and chart the long-term direction of the franchise.

All of which will have a bearing on how they proceed with the seventh overall pick.

Detroit has needs up and down its roster, especially on defense. It might wind up with a need at quarterback. You can argue the need already exists, even if Matthew Stafford returns. So everything is on the table for the Lions in the draft, including a trade down to collect more picks. They only have five at the moment.

We've collected a handful of early mock drafts here. Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is a popular name for the Lions. He feels like a perfect fit, an athletic, speedy player at a position where the team needs a makeover. Wide receivers are popular, too. And that's the direction ESPN's Todd McShay took in his first mock of the year.

The twist: the Lions pass on Ohio State QB Justin Fields in the process.

McShay's first six picks: Trevor Lawrence to the Jags, OT Penei Sewell to the Jets, WR DeVonta Smith to the Dolphins, QB Zach Wilson to the Falcons, OL Rashawn Slater to the Bengals and, one pick before Detroit, Michah Parsons to the Eagles.

With the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase:

Some will point to a defensive need after Detroit allowed a league-worst 419.8 yards per game. Some will argue it is time for a new quarterback, with Matthew Stafford turning 33 and having a potential out on his contract after next season. A new coaching staff and general manager might take the team in a whole new direction, and maybe that direction is with Justin Fields driving the offense. But it's tough to ignore how well Chase matches need with value here for the Lions.

The Lions' top three receivers are set to be free agents in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. Only Golladay is likely to be back, and even that's no sure thing. Whoever's playing quarterback next season, the offense will need more weapons. (Where have we heard that before?) Chase -- "an explosive route runner with great body control," writes McShay -- would fit the bill.

Last year's Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's most outstanding receiver, Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns for the No. 1 offense in the country. He opted out of the 2020 season amid COVID-19 concerns to prepare for the NFL Draft. Now he's poised to go in the top 10.

No. 7? We'll see.