General manager Martin Mayhew stopped taking questions during a press luncheon last month during the NFL league meetings and asked one of his own.

"Do you know what position we drafted more than any other position in the last four drafts?" he said, then immediately answered the question himself.

"Lineman, lineman, lineman (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Riley Reiff)," he said. "When you talk about what people are projecting, what people think we are going to draft, everyone says linemen. How about this? Last year we drafted offensive line. Before that, two first-round picks, one 13th overall, one second overall (Fairley and Suh). We had a $7 million defensive end (Kyle Vanden Bosch), a $5 million defensive tackle (Corey Williams), draft choices Ronnell Lewis, Willie Young and Sammie Hill. Now, what do I love? What do I really love?"

There's no debating it: The Lions have put a lot of resources into building a defensive line. More than $32 million of the team's $124.6 million payroll last season was allocated to defensive linemen.

Yet, here we sit, three weeks away from the draft and the Lions have eight defensive linemen on the roster and only three projected starters — tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, and end Jason Jones.

Vanden Bosch was released. Starting defensive end Cliff Avril signed with Seattle. Williams is a free agent the Lions have shown little interest in re-signing, as is defensive end Lawrence Jackson.

If the season started today, Willie Young would be the other starting defensive end, assuming he signs his $2 million tender, with Ronnell Lewis, a special teams player who only played one snap on defense last season, as the only backup.

The Lions signed veteran defensive tackle C.J. Mosley on Wednesday, but before that, the only backup tackles were Jimmy Saddler-McQueen and Ogemdi Nwagbuo — each active for just one game last season.