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Lions Mailbag: Best options at No. 16 in draft?

The NFL draft is less than three weeks away and pre-draft visits are heating up. Plus, the Detroit Lions are trying to figure out exactly where their roster holes are and how to fix them.

This topic and other things are covered in this week’s Lions Mailbag, filled with your questions. To ask a question for the Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter, email me at michael.rothstein@espn.com or ask away on Facebook here.

Now, on to your questions.

@mikerothstein: The Lions would need a willing trade partner first, and likely for the draft board to break a certain way – meaning a quarterback or a fall for running back Ezekiel Elliott. I would think depending who is sitting there at No. 16 and what offers rolled in, Lions general manager Bob Quinn would consider it. I don’t know if he’s getting a second-rounder for it, though. If it’s me – I’m looking at it, for sure, but I only make that move if the selection in that spot is somebody I’m not completely sold on, or if there are three or four I feel comfortable with and I know I can get one of them. I don’t think that will happen, but there’s still three weeks to figure all that out.

@mikerothstein: Yikes. This is one of the many reasons I choose to not do mock drafts. So I’ll answer this in this way instead. Here’s who I think ends up being available for the Lions at No. 16. I think Shaq Lawson from Clemson is there and unless someone like offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley or cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III unexpectedly falls to them, that’s a player who gets heavy consideration. Beyond Lawson, offensive tackle Taylor Decker will likely get a long look, as will the plethora of defensive tackles possibly available (Jarran Reed, Sheldon Rankins and Vernon Butler, to name a few). Linebackers Darron Lee (Ohio State) and Reggie Ragland (Alabama) would also be possibilities. Laquon Treadwell, given to the Lions by Mel Kiper in his last mock draft, is interesting as well, but I don’t know if the Lions would go in that direction. That could be a trade scenario as mentioned above, if there are trade partners available. So that’s the group I’m looking at.

@mikerothstein: I do not. I’d imagine Donte Whitner will want a good amount of money and I’m not sure the Lions are going to spend there. The franchise has enough cap room to make a deal, without a doubt, but Detroit already signed two safeties and could target one in the draft. Unless there is a lack of faith in either Rafael Bush or Tavon Wilson, I’d think Detroit made its moves there for now. The Lions are likely hoping Glover Quin fills in the leadership role for Rashean Mathis. He’s already done some of that last season. Whitner would be an interesting signing, but I just don’t know if it happens.

Ed from Facebook (and Parts Unknown) asks: What do you feel is the mindset of the Lions organization building up to the draft? Win now or build a team to be successful in the near future?

Rothstein: The mindset is ideally both as the NFL continues to creep closer into the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of management. The Lions, as we all know, have never really been about that. That said, I think the mindset is to win now while building for the future. The depth on the roster has been one of the biggest things general manager Bob Quinn has harped on, and it is an issue. You’ve seen that in the free-agent signings the Lions have made. Quinn also made bolstering special teams a priority in his first free agency, as almost every player he’s signed has special-teams value. So you’re likely looking at a combination of both, but Quinn is going to focus on building through the draft and building depth through the draft. That’s a lot of times the difference between head coaches and general managers, especially at the outset. GMs build with a long-term plan. Coaches, especially ones like Jim Caldwell who are likely on the hot seat entering the season, need to win now. So it’s a tricky balance.