Detroit Lions Free Agent Prediction: Riley Reiff

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Aug 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker
Aug 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker /

On the Roster Options to Replace Him

The Lions will likely have two in-house options to replace Riley Reiff, if they lose him in free agency: Corey Robinson (signed through 2018) and Cornelius Lucas (a restricted free agent).

Robinson started twice for Reiff this season, looking solid in week nine and problematic in week 17. He would end up on injured reserve following week 17, with a foot injury that he suffered during the game, that likely affected his play.

Cornelius Lucas has been on the Lions roster for three season and has never shown much until his start in the 2016-17 playoffs against Seattle. Arguably the best game of his career, Lucas likely earned himself another year with the Lions as they will probably pick up his restricted free agent option.

While both players played well in spot starts, they can’t be counted on as acceptable replacement in the starting lineup. Additionally, neither likely meets Quinn’s offensive line benchmark: Robinson (4.82), Lucas (didn’t run due to injury).

Free Agent Options

The offensive tackle free agency market doesn’t lineup well with the Lions needs and benchmark desires. PFF’s Top-3 free agent offensive tackles are Andrew Whitworth, who is a 35-year old left tackle, and right tackles Ricky Wagner (short shuttle of 4.91) and Menelik Watson‘s (5.01) – none of which meet Quinn’s benchmarks and will also likely price themselves out of Detroit’s range.

PFF’s fourth-ranked free agent offensive tackle is Riley Reiff.

Even if we disregard PFF’s rankings, none of the remaining players available are very appealing either. Carolina’s Mike Remmers will demand left tackle money, and Marshall Newhouse held down the right side on a terrible Giants line. The only other starting offensive tackle in free agency is Jordan Mills, who the Lions tried to put on their practice squad in 2015 because they didn’t think he was good enough to make their 53-man roster.

The final guy in free agency that Bob Quinn would likely target is soon to be former New England Patriot, Sebastian Vollmer. Quinn was on the Patriot’s staff when they gave Vollmer a contract averaging $4.187 million per year, but he is now 33-years old and coming off a missed season, due to shoulder and hip injuries.

I do think Quinn will touch base with Vollmer and will possibly sign him in Detroit, but he can’t be relied upon as a starter moving forward at this point in his career.

Draft Replacements

I’ve gone on record in my weekly Draft Watchlist series that I don’t think there is an offensive tackle worth a first round pick in this draft class.

If the Lions are targeting an offensive tackle early, it will be Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk. He played left tackle for the Badgers and has starter potential, but a January hip surgery complicates offseason workouts. I wouldn’t draft him at 21, but if he was for some reason there at 53 (he won’t be) then I’d consider him.

In this draft there are only two players who are natural players on the right side and capable of starting on day one: Taylor Moton (Western Michigan), who I project inside to guard as a possible replacement for Warford, and Erik Magnuson (Michigan).

Magnuson participated in the Shrine Game last week and showed very well in practices. His stock has risen all season and while most people think he’s a early day three player, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up being drafted at the end of round three. If I’m using the draft to replace Reiff, Magnuson’s combination of value and potential is very appealing.