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Biggest Need on Defense, Defensive Tackle
If the Lions are unable to lock up Ndamukong Suh long-term, this need might leapfrog the first two on offense. Even if he is kept, however, the Lions need an able defensive tackle to play alongside of their all pro. Nick Fairley has been that piece since 2011, but motivation and injury issues saw him effective (Very effective, to be fair) only in spurts. It is highly unlikely the Lions try to lock Fairley up with a long erm deal, leaving them to rely on disappointing 5th round rookie Caraun Reid. That’s not an admirable position to be in.
Aside from uber elite Leonard Williams, who is presently in contention to go 1st overall, there isn’t really a true sure fire prospect at defensive tackle in this draft. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any good ones, only that the ones that we have are pretty flawed. Danny Shelton is one of the highest rated DTs and might be available in the late 1st round.
Shelton has a lot of measurables that stand out in a good way, and he does a lot of things right. I was particularly impressed with his field vision, an area that most rookies struggle with. Shelton locates the ball with ease and tracks it throughout the whole play. He has an admirable motor as well, though he’ll need to work on his conditioning to last a whole game at the pro level.
The biggest knock on Shelton is that he plays tall. Defensive linemen always want to get lower, but Shelton tends to shoot out of his stance rather than getting under his opponents pads. This wasted motion is correctable, but a concern.
Other options include Eddie Goldman of FSU, his teammate Mario Edwards, super athletic Shawn Oakman from Baylor, and Michael Bennett from Ohio State. Each have their merits and flaws. Oakman, for instance, could play DE or DT and is gigantic, but his technique is spotty at best and will require a steep learning curve.
Mario Edwards has a monster bull rush, but it’s his only pass rushing move and when he’s matched up power to power he doesn’t know what to do. All in all, there are some good options here, but nobody that will step in and replace Nick Fairley from day one, let alone Ndamukong Suh.
Next: A Slight Change up