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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Luke Kuechly To Lions

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As of right now, linebacker isn't considered one of the biggest needs for the Detroit Lions. While guys like DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch are free agents, both are expected to return right now. Levy is a restricted free agent, so he will almost certainly be back. And although Tulloch may command a bigger salary than last season after playing very well in 2011, the expectation is for the Lions to re-sign him.

If something happens where the Lions don't re-sign Tulloch, they could look to the NFL Draft for his replacement. In SB Nation's latest 2012 NFL mock draft, that is exactly what the Lions are predicted to do. SB Nation has them taking Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the 23rd overall pick. Here's why:

Detroit got a steal when they signed Tulloch to a one-year deal for 2011. He will command a much higher price as a free agent, and the Lions might be better served to look elsewhere. If Kuechly falls this far, the Lions would pounce at the chance to get a player of his ilk.

Kuechly, who won the 2011 Lombardi Award, Butkus Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy, had a ridiculous 191 total tackles in 2011. He finished his three-year career with 516 total tackles, which is pretty amazing when you consider he played in only 37 games during his career.