Mock 21-1.0 is my first stab – or educated guess – at predicting who the Detroit Lions will take with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2017 draft.
There are more versions to come, but this week's Monday Countdown is the start of a long process of draft predictions with the annual Combine testing, Pro Day and individual workouts and free-agent signings and losses still ahead that will impact team's needs.
By all accounts, Bob Quinn had a productive 2016 draft in his first year as general manager of the Lions. The rookie class helped the Lions get a 9-7 won-loss record and a wild-card berth in the NFC playoffs. But as Quinn said in his postseason press conference, there is still work to be done.
"I thought we had a really productive year of building the team, building the culture that Coach (Jim) Caldwell and I want to create in this building," Quinn said. "I think there's still a lot of work to do. You know, nine wins is a good season. It's not nearly enough for what we want."
What Quinn and Caldwell want is a Super Bowl contender. The Lions have to fill some obvious holes – running game, pass rush, speed at receiver, play-making outside linebacker and overall depth among them – to achieve that goal.
One first-round pick can't fill all the holes, but the right player at the right position can make an impact.
Mock 21-1.0 is my first projection of who the Lions will draft at No. 21, based on the 20 picks ahead of them.
There's more to come. And as always, feel free to disagree.
1. Cleveland Browns (1-15): Add to the pass rush here with the top-rated defender. If they want, fill the QB later in the round.
Pick: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14):Colin Kaepernik's 2016 stats – 16 TD passes vs. 4 picks in 12 starts – don't indicate a need to rebuild at QB. But that seems to be the way the 49ers will go – with a choice that will be questioned because of lack of experience.
Pick: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina.
3. Chicago Bears (3-13): First they make their pick. Then they answer questions about why they didn't draft a replacement for QB Jay Cutler.
Pick: DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): With new executive VP Tom Coughlin overseeing the football operation, the Jaguars might submit their draft card five minutes before their 10-minute countdown clock starts – while the Bears are in the midst of making their pick. More talent for the secondary.
Pick: S Jamal Adams, LSU.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams, 4-12): The Titans are a rising team that won five of its last seven, with four of the wins over playoff teams. It's a tough choice here between secondary and receiver. Quality decides it.
Pick: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State.
6. New York Jets (5-11): They played hardball in offseason contract talks with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who eventually signed and played soft toss in a dreadful season. The Jets brain trust might disagree, but winning – and winning big – makes me believe this is the way they should go.
Pick: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11):The Chargers need insurance at safety because of the injury that ended Jason Verrett's season early. If Verrett's back for the start of the season, the Chargers have a strong safety tandem.
Pick: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Not exactly a novel thought: A runner takes some pressure off the QB.
Pick: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1): They've fallen down after five straight seasons in the playoffs. A pass-rusher helps them get back up.
Pick: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford.
10. Buffalo Bills (7-9): There's some sentiment that Notre Dame QB Deshon Kaiser would be a fit here. I'd go with a receiver with Deshaun Watson off the board.
Pick: WR Mike Williams, Clemson.
11. New Orleans Saints (7-9): They gave up more than 400 points four of the last five years and were 7-9 all four years. They gave up 304 in 2015 and were 11-5. That points to the need to draft for defense.
Pick: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee.
12. Browns from Eagles (7-9): I'd pass – no pun intended – on taking a quarterback here and be open to trading down. If there's no deal ...
Pick: RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1): If the window on a Super Bowl run hasn't closed, someone has at least pulled the drapes.
Pick: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings 8-8): QB Carson Wentz could use another receiver, but having Mike Williams and Corey Davis off the board shifts focus to defense.
Pick: CB Quincy Wilson, Florida.
15. Indianapolis Colts (8-8): The lack of big plays defending the pass – only eight picks, 33 sacks – points out a major need.
Pick: OLB Tim Williams, Alabama.
16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): Consider the Harbaugh connection – Ravens head coach John Harbaugh getting a player from brother Jim's Michigan team to fill a primary need in the secondary.
Pick: S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan.
17. Washington Redskins (8-7-1): They can go just about anywhere on defense for an upgrade. When in doubt, look to Alabama.
Pick: ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama.
18. Tennessee Titans (9-7): They can turn to offense to give Marcus Mariota a big target after helping the defense with the fifth pick overall.
Pick: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): They hit on their top two picks last year – CB Vernon Hargreaves III and DE Noah Spence – so take another swing to get to the passers to move up in the NFC South.
Pick: DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA.
20. Denver Broncos (9-7): The major problems were up front on an offense that ranked 25th or worse in seven categories.
Pick: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin.
21. Detroit Lions (9-7): So many ways to go – linebacker, receiver, defensive line, secondary, trade up, trade down – and so many candidates. Obviously, a lot depends on what happens in free agency, but here are positions and options to look in the process of projecting the Lions' pick, based on how things stand three months before the draft:
Trade: Always an option, up or down, and no way to predict. For reference, eight of the first 21 picks last year changed hands through trades – including No. 21.
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: It's a dream pick, just like in 2015 and 2016 when Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott were the two backs I'd have broken the draft bank for to move up via trade. This year it's Cook, and not as a replacement for Ameer Abdullah as the primary running threat, but as an addition to create a dynamic 1-2 punch and insurance against injury.
I doubt this will happen, but sometimes dreams come true.
DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State: The interior of the defensive line did not materialize as a strength in 2016. Rookie A'Shawn Robinson showed real promise when he took over as a starter late in the year. McDowell is tall and lean at 6-6 and close to 280 pounds, and he's athletic, with the ability to move outside at times. McDowell and Robinson would make a formidable young interior tandem.
WR John Ross, Washington: With Mike Williams and Corey Davis off this board, he's the best deep threat remaining. The Lions need to add a quality deep threat to stretch the deep secondary. One drawback: The 2016 season was the only one for Ross with significant production.
CB Jalen "Teez" Tabor, Florida: He had four picks and six pass breakups for the Gators in 2016. Tabor would add size and ball skills to a secondary that did not create many turnovers. It's shaping up as a good draft for cornerbacks.
Linebacker/trade: Two good ones are off this board -- Tim Williams of Alabama to the Colts at 15, and Takkarist McKinley of UCLA to the Bucs at 19 – so this would require making a trade. McKinley is also rated as an outside linebacker. Somewhere in the draft or free agency the Lions need to add a sideline-to-sideline linebacker to go with Tahir Whitehead, a tackling machine in the middle.
Projected pick: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan -- The Lions' 26 sacks in 2017 were second fewest in the league last season and represent a major weakness on defense.
An ankle injury that limited Ziggy Ansah to only two sacks in the regular season after setting a career high of 14.5 in 2015 was partly responsible for the low sack total. A good sign for 2017 is that Ansah looked like his old self in the playoff loss to Seattle. He had two sacks and five hits on Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
Charlton has good size – close to 6-6 and 270-plus pounds – with long arms and power to set the edge. As a four-year player and full-time starter in 2016, Charlton had 13.5 tackles for loss, including 9.5 sacks, and two pass breakups.