ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have one shot at another No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. That’s it. One permutation of events happening on Sunday to get them once again picking third this spring.
For the Lions to be sitting at No. 3 by Monday morning, six things have to happen. First, without question the Lions must lose to Minnesota.
Then Detroit also needs Atlanta to beat Tampa Bay, the Giants to beat Dallas, Cincinnati to beat Baltimore, Houston to beat Tennessee and Philadelphia to beat Washington on Sunday night.
The FPI has the possibility of that happening at 0.5%. As in less than 1%.
But, as Lions interim head coach Darrell Bevell said earlier this month about their now-extinguished playoff hopes, “So you’re saying there’s a chance, right?”
Yes, there’s a chance, just a very, very tiny one.
The more realistic possibility is Detroit lands in the Top 5 for the second straight year. Detroit is at No. 7 in the draft, but FPI has the Lions with a 28.3% chance to earn a top-five pick and an 84.3% chance to be picking in the top 10.
Detroit has clinched its third straight double-digit loss season -- the first time that’s happened since 2008-2010 when the Lions went 0-16, 2-14 and 6-10.
However, if Detroit ends up picking in the top five, it will be the first time since 2008-2010 the Lions will have back-to-back seasons with top-five picks. In 2009, the Lions took quarterback Matthew Stafford at No. 1 overall. The following year, Detroit took defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at No. 2.
Overall, it would be the fourth time in team history the Lions picked in the top five back-to-back years.
In 2002, the Lions took quarterback Joey Harrington at No. 3 overall and the next year took wide receiver Charles Rogers at No. 2. Before that, in 1988, Detroit took defensive back Bennie Blades at No. 3 overall and then the following year selected running back Barry Sanders, widely considered the best player in franchise history, at No. 3.
The Lions have picked in the top 10 overall far more frequently in back-to-back years -- and another this year would be three straight top-10 selections following tight end T.J. Hockenson (No. 8, 2019) and cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Detroit picked in the top 10 for six straight years in the 2000s from 2002 (Harrington) to 2007 (Calvin Johnson, No. 2 overall). Of those picks, four were wide receivers -- Rogers, Roy Williams (No. 7, 2004), Mike Williams (No. 10, 2005) and Johnson.
The Lions also went five straight years in the top 10 in the late '80s and early '90s, starting in 1987 with defensive end Reggie Rogers (No. 7) to Blades, Sanders, quarterback Andre Ware (No. 7, 1990) and receiver Herman Moore (No. 10, 1991).
Considering what could be awaiting the Lions in the future if the team chooses to rebuild, the top 10 might be a place they become familiar with once again as they try to put together a consistent winner for the first time in decades.