After losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley this offseason, the Detroit Lions had to fill both starting spots at defensive tackle. Shortly after losing Suh, they made a move to fill one of those spots by trading for Haloti Ngata. He is a lock to start at defensive tackle for the Lions, but there is far less certainty when it comes to the other starting spot at this position.
The perceived favorite to start alongside Ngata is Tyrunn Walker. He was signed just days after free agency officially opened after not being tendered by the New Orleans Saints as a restricted free agent. Although he was a definite under-the-radar type of signing, he's been viewed as a likely starter given his promising work in limited action in New Orleans. Plus, there were hardly any other defensive tackles on the roster when he joined the team.
Actually, the lone returning player in the mix for the second starting defensive tackle job is Caraun Reid. He didn't see a ton of playing time as a rookie in 2014, but he got quite a few No. 1 reps this offseason for the Lions. That may be a sign that he is a starter on paper going into training camp, but he will need to take a big step forward to actually capture that role.
The one other player worth mentioning for this camp battle is fourth-round pick Gabe Wright. The Lions are expected to use Wright as a rotational backup rather than a starter, but maybe he will come out of nowhere in training camp and cause defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to alter his plans.
Who has the edge right now?
Even though Reid received first-team reps in the spring, this still feels like Walker's job to lose. Despite his underrated status, the Lions seem to view Walker as a player who will blossom with a bigger role, and there's a reason they made him a priority back in March after losing Suh and Fairley. The Lions seem to have confidence in Walker's ability to step into a starting role, and that's what I ultimately expect will happen when the regular season opens.
Previously: Backup quarterback, starting running back, No. 4 running back, starting fullback, No. 3 wide receiver, No. 4 offensive tackle, starting left guard, starting center, No. 3 defensive end