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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Defensive tackle a popular pick for Lions

The calendar has flipped to February, which means the NFL Scouting Combine is later this month and teams are deep into their draft prep.

The Lions own the No. 16 pick. The early mock drafts are heavy on offensive and defensive lineman as good fits for the team in that spot.

Here's a very early look at some of the mock drafts out there:

Daniel Jeremiah,

A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

Why: The Lions need to get better at this position, and Robinson has the tools to be a dominant three-down player.

Bucky Brooks,

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Why: The Lions could elect to add an energetic interior defender to eventually replace Haloti Ngata as the team's designated destructive force in the middle. Reed not only brings energy, but he is a rugged playmaker capable of wreaking havoc at the point of attack.

Lance Zierlein,

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Why: Surprise. Butler has outstanding upside and has greater pass-rush potential from an interior spot than some of the others being listed ahead of him.

Chad Reuter,

Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State

Why: Decker joins fellow former Big Ten star lineman Riley Reiff on the Lions' O-line, with the hopes that it helps in pass protection (44 sacks allowed in 2015) and the consistency of the bottom-ranked rush offense in the league.

Mel Kiper,

Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

Why: Detroit's defense began to round into form during the second half of the season, but the Lions were a mess early on as they adjusted to life without Ndamukong Suh. Reed is a player who makes you better against the run right away. He plays with leverage, can wreck running lanes along the interior of the D-line, and frees up others to make plays.

Rob Rang,

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

Why: Nkemdiche shares a lot in common with former Lions star Ndamukong Suh; the most important being remarkable athleticism on a naturally powerful 6-4, 295-pound frame. After electing not to re-sign Suh a year ago, the Lions may be hesitant to gamble on a player with Nkemdiche's red-flags but pairing him with Ziggy Ansah would be tempting.

Dane Brugler,

Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State

Why: With a new front office, the Lions will be a wild card in the first round, especially if Detroit makes a splash with one of the high-priced contracts (Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, etc.) on the current roster. Decker is a plug-and-play option on the offensive line, which would address the Lions' issues at right tackle.


Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State

Why: There's no question that upgrading the offensive line has to be a priority for Detroit this upcoming offseason, and the front office can start by finding an upgrade across from Riley Reiff.

Chris Burke,

A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

Why: No explanation given

Pro Football Focus

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Why: Offensive line help is on the way in Stanley, who graded at 9.6 as a pass rusher and 9.3 in the run game. He can struggle with power in the run game at times, but he moves well and surrendered only 13 pressures on 458 attempts this season. He can step right into Detroit's revolving door at right tackle while potentially pushing LT Riley Reiff out the door in the coming years.

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