The Detroit Lions have an immediate need within their interior part of their offensive line after allowing former Michigan Wolverine Graham Glasgow walk in free agency to the Denver Broncos. Bob Quinn signed Halapoulivaati Vaitai formally of the Philadelphia Eagles, too, in all likelihood is the starting right tackle next season.
Quinn wisely moved on from Rick Wagner who’s play had been significantly declining, but replacing him with Vaitai isn’t a sure thing either. Detroit granted the primarily backup lineman with the Eagles a lucrative five year $50-million deal. Vaitai is just 26-years old with plenty of promise to go with his versatility. He can play either guard or tackle position and has spent time at all four positions throughout his career. Expect the run blocking monster to start at right tackle next season.
That leaves Cesar Ruiz to step right in at right guard for the Detroit Lions. They’ve allowed one Michigan guard to walk, so why not replace him with another Wolverine? It’s the perfect fit for both Ruiz and the Lions.
Ruiz spent the majority of his time as the Wolverines starting center, but similar to Frank Ragnow, it’s very beneficial to have a player break into the NFL as a guard. In the NFL, the pre-snap line calls, protections a center needs to identify are much more complicated than in college.
Ragnow spent his first season as Detroit’s left guard but excelled last year as the center. He has the makings of an All-Pro center shortly.
Ruiz started five games at guard; he can play either guard position or center. If something were to happen to Ragnow, Ruiz can slide right over and excel at the center position. His versatility is an asset, similar to Glasgow. I expect Ruiz to be better than Glasgow at some point during his rookie contract.
The Lions need to focus on building an offensive line that will allow Matthew Stafford to survey the field with time to throw, plus offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell loves to establish the run game.
Ruiz is a powerful yet athletic specimen. He stands 6’4 and plays at about 320 pounds. He can pull and become a lead blocker, successfully hitting a moving target at the second level. The Detroit Lions currently have Joshua Garnett, Oday Aboushi, and Beau Benzschawel expected to compete for a starting gig. Ruiz easily unseats all as the week one starter.