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2015 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper goes defense for Lions

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In Mel Kiper's first 2015 NFL mock draft, the Detroit Lions are predicted to add some help on defense.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

How do we know that draft season has officially arrived? ESPN's Mel Kiper recently released his first 2015 NFL mock draft. Yes, it's tough to make any real predictions this far away from the draft, but the whole point of mock drafts is to speculate, and that's part of the fun of the offseason.

In any case, Kiper has the Detroit Lions taking Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown with the 23rd overall pick. Kiper clearly doesn't think the Lions will be able to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, which is why he has them attempting to find Suh's replacement in the first round.

Yes, there is some speculation that Detroit could franchise Ndamukong Suh or find a way to bring him back in free agency, but given other salary commitments, we know that's going to be tough. Fortunately for them, the defense around Suh improved in 2014 under the direction of Teryl Austin, and there exists the opportunity to find help at defensive tackle in the draft. Brown is one option. While he won't provide the same pass rush Suh does (few can), Brown is an absolute beast against the run and will hold the point of attack. Like Suh, he's also proven to be durable.

If the Lions do in fact lose Suh, chances are they will at the very least have to re-sign Nick Fairley. Even if they do, though, there will still be a pretty big hole at the defensive tackle position with C.J. Mosley also hitting free agency this offseason, so I certainly wouldn't have an issue with drafting someone like Brown. It'd be nice to be able to address the offensive line after that unit's struggles in 2014, but defensive tackle will likely be an even bigger need if Suh does indeed sign elsewhere.