Mock Draft: Free Agency Effect is my third mock draft this year and by far the most challenging of any other I can recall.
Trades, free-agent signings and the impact of record-setting contracts have forced changes in projections on a daily basis -- and sometimes hourly.
One thing has remained constant. The Detroit Lions are in a good position with two first-round picks -- second and 32nd overall.
This draft has depth in areas where the Lions need help -- defensive line and wide receiver specifically --to continue the rebuild undertaken by head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes.
Following are the first-round projections for my third mock draft. Trades are not allowed.
As always, feel free to disagree.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars, 3-14:
Status: Going heavy on OL in free agency shows the Jags are switching to defense for No. 1 pick.
Pick: Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan.
Mock 1-2 Picks: OT Evan Neal, Alabama.
2. Detroit Lions, 3-13-1:
Status: Hutchinson going No. 1 could open good opportunities for the Lions to trade down. Impact for defense is the priority, wherever they pick.
Pick: Safety Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame. Size (6-4, 220), athleticism and instincts have him rated high.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Hutchinson, Hamilton.
3. Houston Texans, 4-13:
Status: Trading QB Deshaun Watson to Cleveland brings closure, adds draft capital.
Pick: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State. Combine performance elevated him.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Hutchinson, edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon.
4. New York Jets, 4-13:
Status: Jets' two high first-round picks building blocks.
Pick: CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Cincinnati. He moved to the top of his position.
Mock 1-2 Picks: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU.
5. New York Giants, 4-13:
Status: Draft shuffle ahead of them doesn't change their needs. And they still get a quality player.
Pick: Edge rusher Travon Walker, Georgia.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Ekwonu.
6. Carolina Panthers, 5-12:
Status: There's been more talk than action about them dealing to fill QB need. A QB will be over drafted by Carolina because of need.
Pick: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh. Closed out his career with a big 2021 season -- 42 TD passes vs. seven picks.
Mock 1-2 Picks: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State, Pickett.
7. New York Giants, from Bears, 6-11:
Status: Two high first-round picks add solid foundational prospects.
Pick: Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Hamilton, Thibodeaux.
8. Atlanta Falcons, 7-10:
Status: They missed on dealing for Watson, then traded QB Matt Ryan to Indy. The next guy needs protection. No mystery here.
Pick: OT Evan Neal, Alabama.
Mock 1-2 Picks: ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah.
9. Seattle Seahawks, from Broncos, 7-10:
Status: Trading QB Russell Wilson to Broncos gives Seahawks draft picks to beef up roster. Should start with defense.
Pick: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia.
Mock 1-2 Picks: No first-round pick.
10. New York Jets, from Seahawks, 7-10:
Status: A second first-round defender wins out over WR with defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh.
Pick: Edge rusher Jermaine Johnson III, Florida State.
Mock Picks 1-2: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas.
11. Washington Commanders, 7-10:
Status: Trade with Colts for QB Carson Wentz changed draft focus.
Pick: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State.
Mock 1-2 Picks: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss.
12. Minnesota Vikings, 8-9:
Status: Vikings have drafted five defensive backs in the first two rounds in the last five drafts. Make it six for six.
Pick: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Gardner.
13. Houston Texans, from Browns, 8-9:
Status: The Browns were focused on a WR. It's a good pick for the Texans, too.
Pick: WR Drake London, Southern Cal.
Mock 1-2 Picks: No picks.
14. Baltimore Ravens, 8-9:
Status: Adding strength up front is needed to play their style of football.
Pick: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa. Practicing against his defensive teammates at Northern Iowa got him ready for the NFL.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Edge rusher George Karlaftis, Purdue, Penning.
15. Philadelphia Eagles, from Dolphins, 9-8:
Status: Receiver need remains. Position depth is strong.
Pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State.
Mock 1-2 Picks: London.
16. Philadelphia Eagles, from Colts, 9-8:
Status: Pro Day Injury knocks Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo out of this spot. Next defender up.
Pick: ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Ojabo.
17. Los Angeles Chargers, 9-8:
Status: Chargers adjust in fallout from Ojabo injury.
Pick: DL Logan Hall, Houston.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Johnson, Davis.
18. New Orleans Saints, 9-8:
Status: Taking a receiver makes sense, even one coming off an injury.
Pick: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Williams.
19. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-8:
Status: Not taking a QB with three first-round picks shows a commitment to Jalen Hurts.
Pick: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Dean.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-7-1:
Status: Signing veteran Mitchell Trubisky to replace Ben Roethlisberger lets them draft at another position.
Pick: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State.
Mock 1-2 Picks: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina.
View photos of NFL prospect Jermaine Johnson II.
21. New England Patriots, 10-7:
Status: Secondary remains a primary need.
Pick: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington.
Mock 1-2 Picks: McDuffie.
22. Green Bay Packers, from Las Vegas Raiders, 10-7:
Status: Packers looking for a replacement after trading WR Davante Adams to the Raiders.
Pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas.
Mock 1-2 Picks: No picks.
23. Arizona Cardinals, 11-6:
Status: Whatever the Cardinals do can be interpreted as keeping QB Kyler Murray happy.
Pick: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State.
Mock 1-2 Picks: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M.
24. Dallas Cowboys, 12-5:
Status: Offseason activity puts OL, WR and pass rusher in play.
Pick: Center Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Linderbaum.
25. Buffalo Bills, 11-6:
Status: Signing free-agent linebacker Von Miller strengthens the pass rush and Buffalo can use the draft to strengthen the secondary.
Pick: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Booth.
26. Tennessee Titans, 12-5:
Status: Titans benefit from receiver draft depth.
Pick: WR George Pickens, Georgia.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Pickens.
View photos of NFL prospect Malik Willis.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 13-4:
Status: They won the draft and every other offseason activity when Tom Brady ended his 40-day retirement.
Pick: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Hall, Olave.
28. Packers, 13-4:
Status: Packers double down on receivers.
Pick: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Wyatt.
29. Kansas Chiefs, from 49ers, 10-7, through Dolphins:
Status: Chiefs get two shots to improve their defense. They start with the interior.
Pick: DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M.
Mock 1-2 Picks: No picks.
30. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-5:
Status: Chiefs get lucky to help defense with a value pick.
Pick: Edge rusher George Karlaftis, Purdue.
Mock 1-2 Picks: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida, Karlaftis.
31. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-7:
Status: No need to overthink this one. Get protection for QB Joe Burrow.
Pick: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Raimann.
32. Detroit Lions, from Rams, 12-5:
Status: This is a good spot for the Lions on many levels.
One is to trade down with a team that wants the fifth-year option that goes with first-round picks.
Staying put, there is talent on the board at positions the Lions are seeking to upgrade -- wide receiver, edge rusher and safety among them.
Staying put, I have the Lions making picks for the future.
Pick: QB Malik Willis, Liberty. He's athletic with a strong arm, but needs development. Let him do it in Detroit.
Mock 1-2 Picks: Olave, Willis.