Changes from Mock 21-1.0 are based on how trades, injuries, Combine and Pro Day workouts and free-agent signings and losses have changed team needs.
Call it an adjustment draft – like putting it in the hands of a personnel guru chiropractor to perform the necessary tweaks and realignments to straighten out how the first 21 players will come off the board.
One major influence in the changes from my first mock draft is how the 49ers and Bears signed free-agent quarterbacks to provide a short-term fix. Another was the signing of free-agent offensive linemen.
The Lions were aggressive there, starting with the first-day signing of right tackle
And, most unfortunate, another was the injury sustained by University of Washington cornerback Sidney Jones in his Pro Day workout. I did not have Jones in my first mock draft but projected him as a top 10 pick in this one based on how signings and losses changed needs.
For the Lions, my first mock had running back Dalvin Cook of Florida State as their dream pick – but off the board at No. 12 to the Browns, and my pick came from the following pool:
Defensive tackle Malik McDowell of Michigan State, wide receiver John Ross of Washington, cornerback Teez Tabor of Florida, linebacker/defensive ends Takkarist McKinley of UCLA and Tim Williams of Alabama and University of Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
My pick, from that group, was Charlton.
A lot has happened since then to make other players candidates for the Lions, or to change the pick. Or has it?
Here is my Mock 21-2.0. As always, feel free to disagree. And rest assured, we’ll have another shot at this before April 27.
1. Cleveland Browns (1-15): The trade with Houston that gave them Brock Osweiler, his contract and another second-round pick in this year’s draft does not change what they do here.
Pick: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M. No change.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14): Signing Brian Hoyer is a bridge to their long-term QB starter.
Pick: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama. Change from QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina.
3. Chicago Bears (3-13): Jay Cutler out and Mike Glennon eliminates a first-round QB.
Pick: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford. Combine pushed him up. Change from Allen.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): Sticking with Blake Bortles at QB for another year is the right way to go. Free agency started well, especially with additions of Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye to the defense.
Pick: S Jamal Adams, LSU. No change.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams, 4-12): Same choice – receiver or cornerback. Same pick.
Pick: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State. No change.
6. New York Jets (5-11): Dumping veterans means they’re in full rebuild mode. That lets a young QB take his lumps and learn, and with the pressure to win right away off – until Week 2.
Pick: QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina. Change from QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson. (He won’t be on the board much longer.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11): Not much has happened to change their plan or the primary need to shore up the back end of the secondary.
Pick: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State. No change.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-10): They still need a runner, and the best one’s on the board.
Pick: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU. No change.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1): A team that made the playoffs five straight years before last season is crumbling up front on offense.
Pick: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin. Change from DE Solomon Thomas.
10. Buffalo Bills (7-9): Keeping QB Tyrod Taylor is their best move of the offseason. He needs another receiver, but losing CB Stephon Gilmore could have changed their priority.
Pick: WR Mike Williams, Clemson. Note: No change, but I had planned to put CB Sidney Jones of Washington before the injury in his Pro Day workout.
11. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Prolific offense hasn’t kept them from going 7-9 three straight years. Trading WR Brandin Cooks could make them jump for a receiver, but defense should prevail.
Pick: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama. Change from DE Derek Bennett, Tennessee.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles, 7-9): Having two second-round picks makes them more of a candidate to trade up than down, or to put a package together to trade for Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Or to draft a QB.
Pick: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson. Change from RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1): Losing Calais Campbell in free agency makes them look at defense first instead of receiver.
Pick: DE Derek Bennett, Tennessee. Change from WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan.
14. Philadelphia Eagles, (from Minnesota Vikings 8-8): Adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith gives QB Carson Wentz two receivers – and takes receiver off the board, even with Davis and John Ross available.
Pick: CB Quincy Wilson, Florida. No change.
15. Indianapolis Colts (8-8): Trading Dwayne Allen creates a need to add a tight end, but not in the first round. The Colts have to focus on better protection for Andrew Luck.
Pick: OT Garett Bolles, Utah. Change from DE/OLB Tim Williams, Alabama.
16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8): To start free agency the Ravens kept DT Brandon Williams and signed S Tony Jefferson to help the defense. Now they can focus on offense.
Pick: RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State. Change from S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan.
17. Washington Redskins (8-7-1): Putting aside QB Kirk Cousins’ desire to be traded and front-office upheaval, they’ve come out on the short end in the shuffle of receivers. Signing Terrell Pryor won’t make up for losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Mr. Washington goes to Washington.
Pick: WR John Ross, Washington. Change from LB Reuben Foster, Alabama.
18. Tennessee Titans (9-7): They’ve hit defense and special teams early in free agency.
Pick: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama. No change.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): Among their free-agent signings they went big up front on defense, signing 330-pound tackle Chris Baker, and speed at receiver with DeSean Jackson. My second thought on Tampa Bay is to round out the offense for QB Jameis Winston.
Pick: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford. Change from DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA.
20. Denver Broncos (9-7): Signing offensive linemen Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson took away offensive lineman as the No. 1 need. Whoever plays QB for the Broncos can have a quality target. (Wild thought: What if Brock Osweiler comes back on a discount contract? Impossible? Probably.)
Pick: WR Corey, Davis, Western Michigan. Change from OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin.
21. Detroit Lions (9-7): Signing free-agent Rick Wagner was basically a one-for-one trade – Wagner replacing Riley Reiff at offensive right tackle in what most analysts say is an upgrade for the Lions.
Other early signings have been primarily for depth. Adding cornerback
Nothing to date has changed the need to add impact to the front seven on defense, a running back with power, and speed at wide receiver. There are candidates to do that, and a trade is always a possibility.
Linebacker Haason Reddick of Temple elevated his stock with his Combine performance. He is a first-round candidate and could join Tim Williams of Alabama and Takkarist McKinley of UCLA in the mix of linebacker/defensive end possibilities here.
Malik McDowell also performed well at the Combine, but some people question his intensity.
Which way to go?
Pick: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan. Last season’s 26 sacks – second fewest in the league – still points to the biggest need on a defense that badly needs an impact player who can get to the quarterback and produce turnovers.
No change from Mock 21-1.0 – for now.