Detroit Lions: New coaching staff showing different approach with rookies

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions’ previous coaching staff immediately put Taylor Decker and Jarrad Davis into big roles but the new staff is taking a different approach.

Bob Quinn opted for filling major positions on offense and defense with his first two first round picks as general manager of the Detroit Lions. With Taylor Decker at left tackle and Jarrad Davis at middle linebacker, Quinn hoped to have foundational pieces set for many years to come with those picks.

The previous coaching staff wasted no time in inserting those players right into starting roles as Decker immediately took over the left tackle spot and Davis moved in as the starting middle linebacker even as Tahir Whitehead remained on the roster.

The new coaching staff is clearly taking a different approach.

Frank Ragnow may have been announced as a center on draft night but the Lions have made clear in the aftermath that they simply view him as an interior offensive lineman for now. Center may ultimately be where he winds up – this year or in the future – but he hasn’t been immediately inserted there like the previous coaching staff did with Decker and Davis at their respective positions.

Matt Patricia had the following to say when asked about Frank Ragnow being seen playing left guard at OTAs:

"We’re not in game plan mode. We’re just kind of in a learning mode and a fundamental mode. So, you know, we’re just trying to see how much they can all handle in different spots."

Ragnow appeared to be exclusively at guard early in OTAs but started getting some backup reps at center as time went on. With center being the more premium positions, it’s safe to say he was showing he could handle what he was being given at guard just fine.

Similarly, running backs coach David Walker had this to say about how Kerryon Johnson will be worked into the offsense:

"The general question to me is you give a kid what he can handle, and as of right now he’s been able to handle everything we’ve thrown at him so we’ll continue throwing it at him and seeing how he progresses."

Both Ragnow and Johnson figure to play significant roles in the Lions’ offense as rookies but it’s clear they aren’t being thrust into big roles until they have earned the work.

It’s not clear that one philosophy is superior to the other. Taylor Decker had no problem settling right in at left tackle but Jarrad Davis benefited from a reduced workload late last season that limited situations in which he struggled earlier in the year.

The Lions have the luxury of not needing Ragnow to be in one spot more than another. If he wins the starting center job, Glasgow can remain at left guard. If Ragnow isn’t ready to take over or is but just can’t quite beat out Glasgow, he can get his feet wet at guard.

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All that remains to be seen is just how quickly Ragnow might progress through the paces the coaching staff wants to put him through. We should get a better indication this week when the Lions hold their mandatory minicamp. After that we can start figuring out some expectations for where Ragnow winds up heading into training camp and the season.