Mock Draft 2.0 has the same focus as my Mock 1.0 projections for how the Detroit Lions will target their two first-round picks.
It's still defense, defense when the Lions pick at No. 6 and No. 18, but my selections for Mock 2 have been tweaked and come with a warning to expect the unexpected.
Brad Holmes has been active in the trade market and resourceful in maneuvering picks to maximize their value in his two seasons as general manager of the Lions.
There already are projections of numerous trade possibilities at the top of this year's draft.
Whether the Lions stay put or make a trade, defensive end and cornerback are two positions where the Lions could get help.
Following is my Mock Draft 2.0. As always, feel free to disagree.
1. Indianapolis Colts (4-12-1). Projected trade with Bears (3-14):
A trade makes sense for both teams. The Bears have their quarterback in Justin Fields. The Colts need a quarterback for what looks like a massive rebuild.
Pick: QB Bryce Young, Alabama. Combine issue to watch: Young's height and weight, assuming he gets measured.
Mock 1 pick: Young. No change.
2. Houston Texans (3-13-1):
There isn't a consensus on who should be the second quarterback off the board, but it's hard to overlook C.J. Stroud's stats – 83 TD passes and only 12 picks in 25 games. At 6-3, 215, size is not a negative issue.
Pick: QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State.
Mock 1 pick: Stroud. No change.
3. Arizona Cardinals (4-13):
Another team in a rebuild gets the draft's best pass rusher.
Pick: DE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama.
Mock 1 pick: Anderson. No change.
View photos of the linebacker prospects who were invited to the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
4. Chicago Bears (3-14):
The Bears can't lose in this projected trade. They get the defensive stud they want, and they get compensation from the Colts for moving down from the No. 1 spot.
Pick: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia.
Mock 1 pick: Carter. No change.
5. Carolina Panthers (7-10). Projected trade with Seahawks (9-8 via Broncos 5-12):
As the new head coach of the Panthers, Frank Reich brings with him from the Colts a background of turning over quarterbacks. Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan all failed in the last three seasons. The Panthers might as well start fresh under Reich.
Pick: QB Will Levis, Kentucky. Some draft analysts have him rated ahead of Stroud.
Mock 1 pick: Levis. No change.
6. Detroit Lions (9-8 via Rams 5-12):
The value of this pick has gone up with three quarterbacks going in the first five picks, with the help of two trades.
There are so many good options for the Lions. Among them:
Defensive end: Either Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech or Myles Murphy of Clemson.
Cornerback: There's enough depth at this position to draft a quality prospect with the 18th pick or later.
Quarterback: Forget it. Jared Goff is the Lions' quarterback. He's accurate. He has leadership qualities. And he's only 28. The Lions need to develop a backup, but I wouldn't draft a quarterback before the third round.
Offensive line: It's a position of strength for the Lions. Three of their starters made the Pro Bowl in the last two years – center Frank Ragnow, guard Jonah Jackson and tackle Penei Sewell. Taylor Decker is one of the steadiest left tackles in the league.
Why add to a position that's already good? To keep it good. Drafting the right offensive lineman could do that. Peter Skoronski of Northwestern fits that role – a quality offensive tackle who has the skills to play guard. At least this deserves consideration.
Pick: Defensive end Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech. But don't forget Skoronski.
Mock 1 pick: Cornerback Christian Gonzalez, Oregon.
7. Las Vegas Raiders (6-11):
Releasing veteran Derek Carr puts the Raiders in the market for a quarterback, but they're likely to fill that gap with a veteran free agent. Drafting a QB protector makes sense.
Pick: OT Peter Skoronski, Northwestern.
Mock 1 pick: OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State.
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10):
The Falcons were in the NFC South race with four games left but played their way out of it by scoring only 56 points in the last four games.
Pick: OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State.
Mock 1 pick: Skoronski
9. Seattle Seahawks (9-8):
Instead of going to the draft, the Seahawks seem committed to going with veteran QB Geno Smith who was voted comeback player of the year. After the projected trade, the choice here was between a cornerback or defensive end, and defensive end won out.
Pick: DE Myles Murphy, Clemson.
Mock 1 pick: Wilson. The Lions took Wilson in this draft in a switch from Gonzalez.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3 via Saints 7-10):
Two breakdowns in the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs revealed areas that need help: They couldn't run the ball, and they couldn't rush the passer. I still have them taking a CB here.
Pick: CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn St. A good, solid player who fits how the Eagles are built.
Mock 1 pick: Porter. No change.
11. Tennessee Titans (7-10):
Losing their last seven games showed that they needed playmakers on offense and a healthy quarterback to get them the ball.
Pick: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU. Titans fill the need for a big-time playmaker.
Mock 1 pick: Johnston. No change.
12. Houston Texans (3-13-1 via Browns 7-10):
Hiring respected former Texans player DeMeco Ryans as head coach shows the Texans are headed in a better direction. They add a receiver here to go with the QB they drafted with the second pick.
Pick: WR Jordan Addison, Southern Cal. He was a big-time playmaker at Pitt before transferring to Southern Cal.
Mock 1 pick: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia.
13. New York Jets (7-10):
The Jets were the best team in the AFC that missed the playoffs last season (the Lions were No. 1 in the NFC). The Jets should be active in pursuing a free-agent QB, and they'll use the draft to protect him.
Pick: OT Broderick Jones, Georgia.
Mock 1 pick: Addison.
14. New England Patriots (8-9):
Bill Belichick has been late in giving his young quarterback, Mac Jones, the support he needs to compete at a higher level. Time to make amends.
Pick: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame. He's not Gronk, but he'll give Jones a quality target.
Mock 1 pick: Mayer. No change.
15. Green Bay Packers (8-9):
The Packers are in a rare position, with questions about the future of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coming off a season when they didn't make the playoffs and finished behind the Vikings and Lions in the NFC North. One draft pick won't solve all of that, but it will help.
Pick: Safety Brian Branch, Alabama.
Mock 1 pick: Branch. No change.
16. Washington Commanders (8-8-1):
There is always a surprise or two – or more – in the draft, and one this year is that a quarterback will be drafted lower than expected.
This is where a quarterback ends his unexpected free fall.
Pick: QB Anthony Richardson, Florida. He doesn't lack talent, but he lacks consistency.
Mock 1 pick: Richardson. No change.
View photos of Detroit Lions players at the NFL Scouting Combine.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8):
One of the greatest coaching jobs in Steelers history -- and there have been a lot of them – was head coach Mike Tomlin getting them to 9-8. They won six of their last eight games and the last four. That's something to build on this year, with a little help from the draft.
Pick: CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois. A high energy player who gets to the ball.
Mock 1 pick: Witherspoon. No change.
18. Detroit Lions (9-8):
Three things to consider with this pick:
- I'll be surprised if he Lions make their second pick here at No. 18. I'd expect Holmes to trade up or down.
- Running back Bijan Robinson of Texas is a top 10 prospect – or better – but it's no surprise if he's still on the board. That's the way running backs are regarded.
- At 6-2, and with long arms, cornerback Christian Gonzalez is an imposing athlete. His Combine could be special. That's why I picked him at No. 6 in my first mock.
Pick: CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon.
Mock 1 pick: DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson.