As our Alex Reno said earlier in the week, defensive tackle is really the new cornerback when it comes to the Detroit Lions and mock drafts. Last year, it became a running joke that nearly every mock draft had the Lions taking a cornerback in the first round. Despite the fact that there were perhaps more pressing needs elsewhere, the Lions couldn't shake the notion that they desperately needed help at cornerback.
This year, defensive tackle has taken on that exact role. This at least makes sense considering Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen are all headed for free agency, but the easy pick for those putting together 2015 NFL mock drafts is to give the Lions a defensive tackle in the first round.
Case in point: ESPN's Todd McShay just released his latest 2015 NFL mock draft, and he has the Lions going with Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. If this sounds familiar, it's because ESPN's Mel Kiper also projected the Lions to take Brown in his latest mock draft. It's a bit strange to not see more disagreement this far down in the first round (23rd overall pick), but Brown to the Lions seems to be a pretty popular projection. Here's McShay's reasoning for the pick:
The Lions could go with a cornerback or offensive tackle here, but defensive tackle is a position of need even if Ndamukong Suh does return in 2015 (C.J. Mosley, Andre Fluellen and Nick Fairley are all free agents), and it's a gaping hole if he goes somewhere else in free agency. Brown is a versatile D-lineman who has experience playing NT, DT and DE in a 4-3 defense, and NT and 5-technique in a 3-4. He's strong versus the run and showed more as a pass-rusher during his final season in Austin under head coach Charlie Strong.
I certainly can't fault the logic, especially if Suh signs elsewhere when free agency begins in March. If Suh ends up re-signing with the Lions, however, it will be interesting to see how mock drafts react. Will defensive tackle continue to be the most popular prediction, or will there actually be some variety for the Lions' first-round pick?