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2015 Detroit Lions roster review: Defensive tackles took a big step down in 2015

A look back at how the Lions' defensive tackles performed in 2015 and a look ahead to 2016.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our season wrap-up series, we are going to examine how each player on the roster performed in 2015. Next, let's take a look at the Detroit Lions' defensive tackles.

Haloti Ngata

2015 stats: 14 games (14 starts) | 24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 passes defended
2016 status: Unrestricted free agent

Ngata came into the 2015 season with big shoes to fill and expectations to match. Unfortunately, he entered training camp with a hamstring injury and entered the season a bit rusty. He then suffered a calf injury that caused him to miss a few games. By the season's end, it looked like Ngata returned back to form, but not before the injuries piled up and the Lions had already found themselves in too big of a hole to dig themselves out of.

Caraun Reid

2015 stats: 14 games (12 starts) | 23 tackles, 2.0 sacks
2016 status: Signed through 2017

The Lions put a lot of pressure on Reid in just his second year in the league. Coming into 2015, Reid had never started a game and only had two career tackles. The fifth-round pick took a pretty big step this year, establishing himself as a decent, but unspectacular, starter. At just 24 years old, Reid still has plenty of time to develop and improve.

Tyrunn Walker

2015 stats: 4 games (4 starts) | 9 tackles
2016 status: Unrestricted free agent

Walker was one of the most talked about free agent pickups for the Lions. He was viewed as an underrated player in New Orleans, and many thought he could easily replace the production void left by Nick Fairley and C.J. Wilson's departures. Walker looked promising for the first quarter of the season, but a brutal-looking injury in Seattle ended his season early.

C.J. Wilson

2015 stats: 8 games (0 starts) | 6 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 
2016 status: Signed through 2016

Wilson was added to the team in November as a large need for depth began to pile up. Wilson wasn't spectacular for the Lions, but as a mid-season acquisition he served his purpose fairly well.

Jermelle Cudjo

2015 stats: 7 games (0 starts) | 7 tackles
2016 status: Unrestricted free agent

Cudjo did not originally make the Lions' final 53-man roster, despite a somewhat impressive training camp and preseason. However, the Lions quickly brought him back aboard, signing him back to the team before the first game of the season. But Cudjo did not have much of an impact on the team this year. After being a part of the Lions' defensive tackle rotation early in the season, Cudjo was inactive for seven of the final eight games.

Khyri Thornton

2015 stats: 6 games (0 starts) | 5 tackles
2016 status: Exclusive rights free agents

Thornton was another midseason acquisition, as the Lions picked him up after the Patriots waived him in late October. Thornton, in essence, took Cudjo's place in the rotation and picked up a few tackles along the way, but did not truly make much of an impact in his limited play. Pro Football Focus actually graded Thornton as the Lions' worst defensive linemen in 2015.

Gabe Wright

2015 stats: 7 games (1 starts) | 5 tackles 
2016 status: Signed through 2018

Injuries forced the Lions' fourth-round pick into the lineup early. In fact, Wright earned his first career start in Week 5, after Walker's season-ending injury. But the Lions must not have been impressed by his play, as Wright was a healthy inactive for nine of the final ten games of the season. Still, Wright is very young and hopes are high for a big turnaround in 2016.

Kerry Hyder

2015 stats: 1 game (0 starts)
2016 status: Signed through 2016

Hyder spent nearly all of 2015 on the Lions' practice squad, before being promoted for the final game of the season. Hyder has versatility in his ability to play both defensive tackle and defensive end, but he did not get any real playing time in 2015.

Outlook for 2016

The Lions are due for some big changes on the defensive line. At tackle, Detroit has just four players under contract, all of which combined for a mere 13 starts last season. The Lions' biggest decisions surround Ngata and Walker. Ngata finally started to turn the corner at the end of the season, but he is 32 years old and coming off a season full of injuries. At that age, the recuperation period gets longer and longer, so Ngata may not be worth the trouble. Walker re-signing seems like a no-brainer. He certainly showed potential last year, and he should come at a fairly cheap price.

Going forward, the Lions will still want to add more bodies to the position. Wright's progression is not guaranteed, so the Lions would be wise to find at least one new defensive tackle that could potentially start for them next season.

Previously: Quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends,offensive tackles, offensive guards, centers, defensive ends

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