Instant analysis of the Detroit Lions’ bold trade up, selection of WR Jameson Williams

The Detroit Lions shocked the world after trading up from 32 to 12 in the draft. While many thought the Lions may take the first quarterback off the board, Detroit, instead, opted to select Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. Before I get into the player selection, let’s break down the trade.

Lions trade analysis

Lions get:

Vikings get:

  • Pick 1-32
  • Pick 2-34
  • Pick 3-66

As pointed out by Hamza Baccouche, the Lions “won” the trade when it comes to draft pick value according to Rich Hill’s newest version of his chart. Hill’s chart is based on current trends and how teams have been valuing the picks as of late. He goes into a further explanation here from his trade chart in 2018.

That all being said, not all trade value analyzes favored the Lions. ESPN’s model—which isn’t explained anywhere—says the Vikings won the trade:

For what it’s worth, the Jimmy Johnson trade chart also favors the Lions, but that chart is considered way out of date by most people’s standards.

Additionally, Jason Fitzsimmons, the founder of popular NFL site contracts Over The Cap, believes the Vikings made an error in value judgment based on some of the other first-round trades that happened.

All in all, I think I would call this a pretty even trade, although typically when a team gets this aggressive to trade up they have to overpay. The Lions getting back Pick 46 is huge, as they should still be able to add a defensive talent who could start right away.

Jameson Williams analysis

The Lions undoubtedly needed a long-term receiver, but no one expected them to grab one so early. Williams is a supreme talent in this class with blazing speed that Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson described as, “Defenses will take notice.”

Last year, the Lions finished with just five passing plays of over 40+ yards—the lowest mark in the league. Williams is a big-play factory:

His elite speed combined with his height is both rare and unguardable. And it’s not just long speed that he possesses, but his short-area quickness also allows him to create some immediate separation.

Jameson’s shortcomings include a pretty small frame (measured in at just 180 pounds), which can lead him to getting off-track against a physical corner. However, he is not shy when it comes to his own physicality, as Johnson explained after the selection.

“Fearless competitor,” Johnson explained. “He shows up on offense making plays left and right. He’s running routes full speed, whether he’s involved in the play or not. But then you turn on the next clip and all of a sudden, it’s a special teams play where he’s an absolute animal.”

Obviously, Jameson’s ACL injury is the biggest concern with the Alabama receiver. He could not give an update to the Lions media on his situation, but he was hoping to be ready by training camp. That seems a bit optimism, but after adding DJ Chark in free agency, the Lions have time to bring him along slowly. ACL injuries are not as serious as they used to be, so if Jameson can return to full form—and there’s no reason to suggest he won’t—the knee should be a non-issue in the long term.

Overall, this is a bold move from the Lions. They essentially took a huge offensive weapon at the price of an extra pick. This will hurt their ability to add another starting-capable talent on the other side of the ball, but now they have potential blue-chip players on offense and defense, and they got good value on the trade. It’s Brad Holmes’ boldest move yet, but it could certainly pay off.

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