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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Defense a popular early prediction for Lions

It is Super Bowl week in the NFL, but for 30 teams around the league the draft season is in full swing. The East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl all-star games have concluded, and the NFL Scouting Combine is fast approaching.

Most outlets are starting to put their first mock drafts out. Here's an early look at what some of the draft analysts think the Detroit Lions will do with the No. 8 overall pick:

Daniel Jeremiah, T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Why: This might be a little early for Hockenson, but he fits the physical identity the Lions have been attempting to build.

Bucky Brooks, Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Why: Coach Matt Patricia needs a dynamic edge rusher to wreak havoc off the edge in a division loaded with premier quarterbacks.

Mel Kiper Jr., Devin White, LB, LSU

Why: This is a spot to watch for a pass rusher, as the Lions could part ways with free agent Ezekiel Ansah. In fact, coach Matt Patricia could use improvements at every level of his defense. White is a fly-to-the-football linebacker with similar athletic traits as Detroit middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, who was taken in the first round in 2017. The two could form a stellar tandem, as both are three-down linebackers. White isn't a true pass rusher, but he makes plays in the backfield.

Rob Rang, Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

Why: With Ziggy Ansah set to enter free agency, the Lions will be looking for edge rushers. Allen possesses the burst and bend up-field to make an immediate impact in this area and possesses the maturity Matt Patricia may be looking to add to his young defense. As has been well documented, Allen considered leaving early for the NFL last season but opted to return, significantly improving his stock as a senior.

Chris Trapasso, Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

Why: The Lions have a big need at edge rusher and while they look to have landed a defensive tackle stud on the interior in Da'Shawn Hand, I could totally see Matt Patricia loving the versatility Gary brings.

Ryan Wilson, Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

Why: Gary didn't live up to expectations at Michigan but part of that can be blamed on him playing out of position. Is he an edge rusher? Is he better inside? He was the nation's top recruit coming out of high school and coach Matt Patricia needs a game-changer on his defensive line after a disappointing 2018 campaign.

Nate Davis, USA Today: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Why: Detroit didn't get much on passing downs from its D-line, and it won't help losing free agent Ziggy Ansah, as unreliable as he could be. Gary could not only solidify a deficiency, he has the versatility to move around, a trait Matt Patricia would value given his affinity for employing multiple fronts. 

Charlie Campbell, Devin White, LB, LSU

Why: White is a big inside linebacker who possesses excellent instincts. The 6-foot-1, 255-pounder has good athleticism with the ability to cover in the passing game while also being a terrific run defender. White notched 123 tackles with 12 for a loss, six passes broken up, three sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018. In 2017, he totaled 133 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one interception. That season was a breakout campaign for the sophomore, and if he could have entered the 2018 NFL Draft, he would have graded out similarly to Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds or Georgia's Roquan Smith. White is a pure football player and could be one of the safer picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Why: This is the first example of the Senior Bowl helping a player vault high in the first round. The eighth pick might be a little too high for Sweat, but lanky pass rushers with athleticism tend to rise on draft weekend. Sweat could be Detroit's long-term answer as a pass rusher.

Nick Klopsis, Newsday: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Why: Ezekiel Ansah is set to hit free agency, and his departure would leave the Lions without a bonafide edge rusher. Clelin Ferrell was a top prospect last year before returning to school. He has great size and length, with the athleticism to match.

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Why: Barring a trade of quarterback Matthew Stafford before the draft, the Detroit Lions should go defense first. Greedy Williams has excellent quickness and a long 6'3" frame. He's shown coverage skills and the ability to track the ball, but what's most impressive are his instincts in coverage. As head coach Matt Patricia looks to fill out a defensive depth chart, he's missing a cover corner like Williams who can match up with bigger, faster receivers. The Lions roster is better than the team's record, but the onus is on Patricia and Co. to bring in players who will respond to his coaching and help push the team over the top in the tough NFC North.

Vinnie Lyer, Sporting News: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Why: Ferrell is at the top of the Tigers' defensive line prospects because his size (6-5, 260 pounds) gives him a good baseline as an outside run-stopper to add to his explosiveness as a pass rusher. He's the kind of versatile player out of whom Matt Patricia can get the most, and he also fits the Lions' top need.

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