Lions draft preview: Defensive tackles should be high priority
This is the second in a series of Lions position previews for the NFL draft. Today: Defensive tackles.
Caraun Reid is the only defensive tackle with NFL experience the Lions have signed beyond 2015, so when the draft begins on April 30, that position should be among the top priorities — if not No. 1.
After losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency, the Lions are looking for players to solidify the interior of their defensive line long term, and it should be no surprise to see them take a defensive tackle in the first three rounds.
Luckily for the Lions, this year's draft class has more than a handful of defensive tackles that should be able to contribute immediately.
"I see eight defensive tackles that I think are high-level players," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said before the combine. "Not that the rest aren't, because there are a bunch of other good ones, but my point is I think there's a little bit of a drop-off."
General manager Martin Mayhew drafts the best player on the Lions' board, but if need is considered, the team will likely draft a defensive tackle in the first two rounds because of the drop-off after the top eight players.
The Lions have scouted some of the defensive tackles that could be later picks, but the team will need some production out of a player in 2015. Currently, they have Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker slotted as starters. Behind them, though, Jurmelle Cudjo has the most experience after playing 38 games the last three years for the Rams. Reid, a fifth-round pick, appeared in 12 games as a rookie, and Roy Philon, Kerry Hyder and Xavier Proctor have yet to appear in a game.
Whether the Lions want to add a run-stuffer to spell Ngata or an interior pass rusher, they should have options in the draft.
"I think it's a very good group of defensive tackles," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said.
Go through the gallery above or go here for Josh Katzenstein's top 10 defensive tackles the Lions could consider in the draft.