This one's for real – as real as a mock draft can get, anyway.
Mock 20-4.0: The Final Selection is my final, etched in computer keystrokes prediction on who the Detroit Lions will draft with the 20th pick in the first round Thursday night.
It's never easy pinpointing a pick in this range, and this year is no exception. Trades, and the possibility of a surprise pick at a position not generally considered a primary need, add to the intrigue of the draft.
For the Lions, defensive line and running back are primary needs, but the interior offensive line is also a strong possibility because of the depth of talent available.
In making my picks from 1-20 in my first three mock drafts I had the Lions taking a defensive tackle all three times. It was Maurice Hurst of Michigan in the first two, and Da'Ron Payne of Alabama in the third.
Following are my picks for Mock 20-4.0. There is one rule – trades are not projected.
1. Cleveland Browns: In the last six years they've drafted three quarterbacks in the first round and one in the second. They have none of them on the roster. This is their best chance to get it right.
Pick:Sam Darnold, Southern Cal. The best of this class.
2. New York Giants: New head coach Pat Shurmur inherits veteran QB Eli Manning, who has a few good years left. Adding a runner with elite potential makes those years better.
Pick:RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State. The best player in the draft who isn't a quarterback.
3. New York Jets (from Colts): They didn't trade up to build the defense.
Pick:QB Josh Rosen, UCLA. He'll probably watch and learn early behind vet Josh McCown.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans): With the QB of the future on board, turn to defense.
Pick:DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State. Paired with Myles Garrett, last year's No. 1 pick overall, the Browns' D-line has bookend pass rushers.
5. Denver Broncos: Signing vet Case Keenum lets team president John Elway bet on potential in drafting a QB – who might play sooner than expected.
Pick: Josh Allen, Wyoming. Big quarterback, big arm, big future.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets): They're betting franchise QB Andrew Luck is healthy enough to start the season. The draft's best o-lineman helps keep him healthy.
Pick:G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame. Ready to start and dominate from Day One.
7. Tampa Bay Bucs: Nelson would have been a good fit here to protect Jameis Winston. The Bucs switch to defense.
Pick:S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama. The most versatile defender on the board.
8. Chicago Bears: A cornerback isn't a perfect fit for what the Bears need most, but this one is too good to pass on.
Pick:CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State. Can't have too many cornerbacks in a division armed with quarterbacks.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Trade alert! My stated rule is not projecting trades, but this is a prime spot for the Niners to deal down three spots with Buffalo to No. 12 for an extra pick and still have a chance to take one of the two best linebackers in the draft.
Pick:LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech. Staying put, the 49ers need a playmaking linebacker because of second-year LB Reuben Foster's off-field problems.
10. Oakland Raiders: The defense's lack of playmakers and inability to generate turnovers – only 14 – is a primary reason the Raiders plummeted from 12-4 in 2016 to 6-10 last year.
Pick:LB Roquan Smith, Alabama. He'll toughen up the middle.
11. Dolphins: With Ndamukong Suh gone after three low-impact seasons – the Dolphins were 22-26 and the defense never ranked higher than 16th – there's a ready-made replacement who'll add power and agility to the interior.
Pick:DT Vita Vea, Washington. Comparisons to Haloti Ngata are high praise for Vea.
12. Buffalo Bills (from Bengals):Trade alert! The depth chart lists A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman as the two quarterbacks. I call that a flashing neon sign that says: "We're trading up to draft our opening-day starter!!!"
Pick:QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma. I project him here at 12, unless the Bills trade up to take him sooner.
View photos of NFL prospect Marcus Davenport.
13. Washington: Safety Derwin James has been projected to slide. He'd fit here, but a pass rusher fits better.
Pick:DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio. Raw prospect who'll add to a rush led by Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith.
14. Green Bay Packers: The Packers need receivers and defensive backs, and there's quality help for the secondary.
Pick:CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville. Hampered by injuries in 2017, his talent matches his bravado.
15. Arizona Cardinals: I'd take QB Lamar Jackson of Louisville because I don't have long-term faith in Sam Bradford or Mike Glennon, who were signed to replace Carson Palmer. The Cardinals are likely to choose between a receiver and offensive lineman, and Bradford needs protection.
Pick:OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame. A solid prospect who's probably best suited to play right tackle.
16. Baltimore Ravens: It's an uncharacteristically uncertain time for a stable franchise that has missed the playoffs three straight years. One pick won't fix everything, but a receiver can help QB Joe Flacco.
Pick:WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama. It says something that he was a three-year starter for Alabama.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: They won six of their last seven, and QB Philip Rivers threw 13 TD passes against three picks in that stretch – with all three picks coming in a loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers need to fill a need on their interior defensive line.
Pick: Da'Ron Payne, Alabama. A rising prospect but still the No. 2 DT behind Vea. I had Payne targeted for the Lions in my last mock draft.
18. Seattle Seahawks: There are a lot of ways the Seahawks can go – offensive line, cornerback, running back. A stat to note: QB Russell Wilson led them in rushing last year with 586 yards. No running back had more than 240.
Pick:Derrius Guice, LSU. That sound you heard was not an earthquake. It was Lions fans gasping that the No. 2 running back went off the board.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant or no Dez Bryant, the Cowboys need an upgrade at receiver.
Pick:WR D.J. Moore, Maryland. Good hands and speed, and a good route runner. But nothing spectacular – which Bryant wasn't in his last three seasons with the Cowboys.
20. Detroit Lions: It's not a question of what would be a good pick for the Lions. It's what would be the best pick – or the best decision, if there are offers to trade up to draft a player targeted by GM Bob Quinn, or trade down to acquire more picks. Based on needs and the makeup of the roster, these four positions are legitimate possibilities for Quinn to fill:
View photos of NFL prospect Taven Bryan.
Running back: An obvious need. If Derrius Guice of LSU is gone – as projected in this mock draft and some others – the choice would be from a group of backs who aren't generally considered top 20 prospects. In other words, it would be a reach to take them, something Quinn has said he won't do. However, it should be noted that Quinn might have a higher rating on players at any position than other analysts and teams do.
Interior offensive line: It's a deep group, with guards Will Hernandez of UTEP and Isaiah Wynn of Georgia and centers Frank Ragnow of Arkansas, James Daniels of Iowa and Billy Price of Ohio State possibilities. Hernandez is a powerful player. The fact that he does not play center could lessen his chances to be drafted by the Lions.
Pass rusher: The top two – Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State and Marcus Davenport of Texas-San Antonio – are projected to be gone before the Lions make their pick. Next in this group is Harold Landry of Boston College, who had a big 2016 season but struggled with injuries in 2017. There are questions about his ability to make the transition to the pro game.
Defensive tackle: With Vita Vea of Washington and Da'Ron Payne of Alabama projected to be gone, Taven Bryan of Florida and Maurice Hurst of Michigan are the top tackles left on the board. Bryan is a superior athlete for a player his size – 6-5 and 291 pounds – and an all-out competitor. Some question why his intensity hasn't resulted in more production. He set career highs with six tackles for loss and four sacks in 2017.
My pick for the Lions at No. 20:DT Taven Bryan, Florida. His stock has risen late in the process by draft analysts. That's a good sign. Head coach Matt Patricia has said he likes to build the defense from the ball out. Bryan fits that philosophy. **Fall back pick: *G Will Hernandez, UTEP. The team that drafts him knows what it's getting – a power player who's a pure guard. There are worse things to have.