Detroit Lions roster prediction: Offensive line
The Detroit Lions continued their focus on improving the offensive line, signing several free agents and drafting two potential starters.
In just two seasons, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn has completely revamped the team’s offensive line. After signing Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang to lucrative contracts last offseason, Quinn doubled down on his mission to secure the unit in front of Matthew Stafford.
The Lions used free agency to sign multiple players for depth, a serious issue that plagued the team throughout 2017, and selected two linemen in April’s draft that will make an immediate impact.
LT Taylor Decker, G/C Frank Ragnow, C/G Graham Glasgow, G T.J. Lang, RT Rick Wagner
This is a unit to get excited about.
The Lions used the 20th overall pick on the versatile Frank Ragnow, who projects to be a day-one starter at either enter or guard. As of last week, the Lions had Ragnow lining up at guard, with Glasgow at center. This could change before the start of the season, but seems to be a win-win scenario regardless of who plays where.
Decker’s sophomore campaign was abbreviated with a preseason shoulder injury that cost him half the season. As long as he remains healthy, he is an elite player who can help keep Stafford off the turf.
Lang and Wagner return for their second season each with the team. Injuries and lack of continuity up front contributed to their struggles last year, but upgrades at every position around them on the unit should have them primed for a bounce-back performance in 2018.
Tyrell Crosby, Wesley Johnson, Joe Dahl, Corey Robinson, Brian Mihalik
It may be tough to imagine the Lions dedicating nearly one-fifth of their roster on the offensive line, but as 2017 showed, depth along that unit is a precious commodity.
Tyrell Crosby is the player to watch from this group. A fifth-round selection in last month’s draft, he was considered by many to be a steal for the Lions. He is another versatile piece who played tackle on the left and right for Oregon, and also possesses the ability to play on the interior as a guard. Though he is likely to be a swing tackle for the Lions in his rookie season, he possesses the potential to start down the line.
Robinson and Mihalik provide more depth at the tackle position. Each player performed admirably when called on last season, and should make the roster again in 2018.
Dahl started three games last season as the Lions’ offensive line carousel continued to spin due to injuries, and entering his third year as a pro, has solidified his spot on the team.
Johnson was signed this offseason after spending the last three years with the New York Jets. Last season he started 15 games, and though his performance left a lot to be desired, he is a serviceable option as a backup.
Overall, the Lions offensive line has a chance to be a true strength for the team, and one of the more formidable units in the NFL in 2018. That should finally open up lanes for the running backs, and keep Stafford upright.