ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft, and this installment includes a second round.
Kiper's predictions for the first 64 picks include two trades and six quarterbacks taken.
When it comes to the Detroit Lions and their pick at No. 7, Kiper has them staying put and selecting arguably the best receiver in the class in LSU's Ja'Marr Chase.
"The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner led the country that season with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches, and he'd instantly be the Lions' top receiver on a depth chart that includes new signings Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman," Kiper wrote. "He's great at making contested catches and can break tackles and run after the catch. He's a legit No. 1 wideout, which is sorely needed in Detroit."
As for Detroit's pick in the second round (No. 41 overall), Kiper has them taking Buffalo edge rusher Malcolm Koonce.
"Trey Flowers hasn't lived up to his free-agent price tag, and the Lions' pass rush as a whole has disappointed the last two seasons," Kiper wrote. "Koonce is a natural pass-rusher who had 14 sacks over the past two seasons. He has great length and can be disruptive as a situational edge defender. He's being underrated in the lead-up to this draft, but I love his tape."
Kiper took part in a national conference call Thursday to coincide with the release of his latest mock draft.
Here are some of the highlights from that conference call:
- Kiper thinks there will be movement at the top of the draft from teams trying to move up to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who Kiper ranks as the second best quarterback in this class. He mentioned Detroit at No. 7 as one of the teams who other teams could potentially look to trade up with.
- We know this is a stacked class at receiver. Kiper has 14 receivers being selected in the first two rounds of the draft. He thinks as many as 40 receivers could be drafted throughout the course of the seven rounds.
- Kiper thinks the three strongest position groups in this draft are wide receiver, offensive line and cornerback.
- Miami's Jaelan Phillips is the best pure pass rusher in this class, according to Kiper.
- Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence got the fourth highest grade Kiper's ever given to a quarterback in the draft, and Kiper thinks he's clearly the best passer in the class. After Lawrence, Kiper says there are a lot of question marks with the next four highest graded passers – Zach Wilson, Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones. Kiper said history tells us that of those next four after Lawrence, two are probably going to end up being disappointments.