It has taken five years for general manager Bob Quinn and me to get on the same wave length with the Detroit Lions' first-round draft pick.
We finally connected in the 2020 draft.
Cornerback Jeff Okudah was my pick for the Lions in my final mock draft – Mock 3 5.0: The Final Selection.
Okudah was Quinn's pick for the Lions when he took him with the third pick in the first round.
There's a little wiggle room in how I got it right – finally – but that's one of the twists in the five mock drafts I've done since Quinn was hired on Jan. 11, 2016.
He had scarcely unpacked his travel bag when I greeted him with the following words in making my pick for the Lions in Mock 1 1.0: "The first one's on me, Bob Quinn."
Mock drafts are a fun exercise, and they're more fun when you get it right – or even come close.
Following are the Lions' first-round picks in Bob Quinn's five drafts, from 2016 to the present, and how they compared to the picks in my final mock drafts:
Lions pick, 16th overall: Offensive tackle Taylor Decker, Ohio State. A steady presence at left tackle, the key position on the offensive line. A starter for 55 of 64 games, missing eight games in 2017 because of an injury sustained in the offseason, and one game in 2019.
Mock 16 3.0 Final Selection: DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson. He was taken 19th overall by Buffalo, where he has 16.5 sacks in 50 games with 17 starts for the Bills.
Background: I had Decker going to the Titans at No. 15, one pick ahead of the Lions.
Mock 16 1.0 pick: My pick for the Lions in my first mock draft was linebacker Reggie Ragland of Alabama. He slid to the Bills as the 10th pick in the second round, 40th overall.
Second chance: Ragland became a Lion this year when the signed as a free agent after three seasons with the Bills and 2019 with the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Ragland missed all of his rookie season with an injury.
Bottom line: Decker was a better pick than Ragland.
Lions' pick, 21st overall: LB Jarrad Davis, Florida. A three-year starter, Davis took a step forward in 2018 with career highs of six sacks and 10 tackles for loss, but 2019 was a step back. He missed five games because of injuries. He dropped to two sacks and four tackles for loss. Work ethic and intensity are not question marks. Neither is leadership, but 2020 will be a telling season for him.
Mock 21 4.0 Final Selection: Charles Harris, Missouri. Harris went to Miami at No. 22, one pick after the Lions took Davis. In three seasons Harris has 3.5 sacks in 41 games, with eight starts..
Background: I had safety Jabrill Peppers and defensive end Taco Charlton of Michigan in previous mocks but took Harris in the final mock because of quickness and explosiveness off the edge.
Bottom line: What was I thinking???!!! Davis was a far better pick than Harris.
Lions' pick, 20th overall: Center Frank Ragnow, Arkansas. In two years he's already a Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber center. He started all 16 games at left guard as a rookie, and 15 at center in 2019 after a position switch, missing one game with an injury.
The Lions have a stud in the middle of the offensive line
Mock 20 4.0 Final Selection: My pick was defensive tackle Taven Bryan of Florida. He went to Jacksonville nine picks later at No. 29.
Background: Of the top prospects at positions of need, I figured Bradley Chubb and Marcus Davenport would be gone (they were), as would Derrius Guice (he wasn't). Bryan was a powerful interior lineman who'd fit Matt Patricia's system.
Bottom line: Wrong again.
The Lions have a top-tier lineman in Ragnow. In 32 games and eight starts, Bryan has five sacks.
Lions pick, 8th overall: Tight end T.J. Hockenson, Iowa. He looked great in training camp and the preseason and opened the regular season with six catches for 111 yards and a TD in the tie at Arizona. After that, the reality of the NFL set in. It's a hard game, and it's even harder for rookies.
Mock 8 5.0 Final Selection: My pick was edge rusher Montez Sweat of Mississippi State to fill a critical need. He went to Miami at No. 26.
Background: I did not join the anvil chorus in proclaiming that it was a mistake to draft a tight end in the top 10 but expected Quinn to take a pass rusher.
Hockenson had decent stats: 32 catches, 369 yards and two TDs. He missed the last four games with an injury. Sweat started all 16 games and had seven sacks, 13 QB hits and eight tackles for loss.
Bottom line: I like Sweat. I like Hockenson. I think they'll both be good players.
I'm good with Hockenson. Tight end is one of the toughest positions for a rookie to play.
Lions pick, 3rd overall: Cornerback Jeff Okudah, Ohio State. Okudah was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the draft by a wide margin, and a top 5 player overall. He's an opening-day starter.
Mock 3 5.0 Final Selection: My pick was Okudah, but at No. 6 after a trade down with the Los Angeles Chargers. I also had Okudah in three of my previous four mock drafts. The exception was a dream pick mock, when the Redskins traded out of No. 2 and left edge rusher Chase Young on the board for the Lions' at No. 3.
Background: Trade possibilities were enticing, as they always are. There was more talk about the Lions' trading down than there was about getting a quality pick, and Okudah is a quality pick.
I thought the Lions could trade down to No. 6 with the Chargers and still get Okudah because of the run on quarterbacks. Anything lower than No. 6 would have been risky.
Bottom line: I had an advantage in predicting a trade. It's foolproof when you're negotiating for both sides. It turned out that there was no trade market on draft night.
Okudah was the prize of the draft for the Lions, not a consolation prize for not making a trade.
The next one's on me.