A closer look at the positions the Detroit Lions could target at the NFL combine in Indianapolis:
Positions of need:
The Lions need help in a bunch of places -- both in finding starters and quality depth as inevitable injuries occur. Defensive tackle, for now, is a mess for the second straight offseason as the Lions have Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker as free agents. The offensive line, particularly at tackle, was an issue throughout 2015 and a spot Detroit could invest in early to protect Matthew Stafford. Linebacker, with Tahir Whitehead potentially heading to free agency and Stephen Tulloch's future up in the air, has holes that need filling and speed that needs upgrading. Receiver will have to be addressed no matter what happens with Calvin Johnson because depth there is lacking. Defensive back is another place that needs refreshing, both at safety and cornerback. Essentially, the Lions need help everywhere but quarterback, running back and offensive guard and even finding a long-term backup quarterback could be a draft project.
Three players the Lions could focus on at the combine:
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: He is a strong run-stopper who could become a force in the middle of the Lions 4-3 defense. He had 112 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and seven passes defended in his two years with the Crimson Tide. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has slotted Reed to the Lions in both of his mock drafts thus far and it is a position of need, even if Detroit ends up bringing back Ngata and Walker. Reed's size -- 6-foot-3, 311 pounds -- would be attractive at tackle as well.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama: If the Lions move on from Tulloch, Ragland could be a perfect replacement in the middle. He’s a very instinctual player who is a leader as well. He is better suited to play inside than outside, even though he could end up there if absolutely necessary. His size -- 6-1, 259 pounds -- is good for playing in the middle and his production (222 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss) is unquestioned. He’d be a strong run defender immediately.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: No guarantee he’d be available at No. 16, but if he is the Lions should heavily consider him. He could solidify right tackle almost immediately and give the franchise the option to put him at left tackle right away or possibly in 2017 based on what happens with Riley Reiff. He has great size (6-5, 304 pounds) and was one of the best blockers in college football last season.