The Bengals and Lions were able to get their top targets without executing a deal.
The days following the NFL Draft are always filled with optimism. No club ever thinks they didn’t hit their draft out of the park. They tell everyone that they got their guys, and, in some specific cases, their guy at the top of the draft.
There was no clear consensus as to what the Detroit Lions were going to do in the first round. They ultimately chose Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the seventh-overall pick, and there was apparently a conversation to move up for him.
Per Lions beat writer Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions called the Cincinnati Bengals about moving to the fifth-overall pick for Sewell.
“When Pitts came off the board at No. 4, Holmes called the Cincinnati Bengals—who possessed the No. 5 pick—and had ‘dialogue’ about moving up,” Birkett said. “Though pre-draft reports pegged the Lions as targeting (Ja’Marr) Chase, the talented receiver out of LSU, Holmes indicated his call Thursday night was about Sewell.”
This indicates that Sewell was indeed the top target for the Lions. Unless it was Kyle Pitts, which would’ve been wild, to say the least.
Just a few days before the draft started, there was a report that said the Lions had called the Atlanta Falcons about trading up to take LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the fourth-overall pick. The Lions seemed to be more linked to Chase than Sewell throughout the pre-draft cycle. And just a month ago, Lions reporter Jeff Risdon said he didn’t see the Lions considering Sewell with the seventh pick.
I don’t see it, no.
— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) March 30, 2021
But that’s the wonder and allure of the draft! So much information gets floated between league sources and media members, but much of it ends up being false.
The Bengals trading down with Chase still on the board became less and less likely as the draft neared. Director of player personnel Duke Tobin and head coach Zac Taylor heavily hinted at the team adding a legitimate deep threat to their offense all offseason, and both talked about adding a premier player with their first-round pick. That didn’t mean they weren’t open to trading out of the fifth pick entirely, but Chase was the target, and they didn’t want to lose a chance at getting him.
Since the Miami Dolphins passed on Sewell for Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle, the Lions were able to snag Sewell without sacrificing draft capital. If he was indeed their top target all along, they should feel just as good about last Thursday night as the Bengals do.