Detroit Lions: The offensive line still a main concern heading into 2020

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

It seems like the same thought year after year, but here we are again.  The Detroit Lions offensive line is the only component that could leave a high powered offense sputtering in 2020.

The Detroit Lions are poised to have a tremendous season on the offensive side of the football in 2020 with a healthy Matthew Stafford back under center, but the success or lack thereof from a mixed and matched offensive line could have something to say about that.

If it seems like a broken record, that’s because it is.  The Lions offensive line (OL) woes stem further back than General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia’s tenor with the organization.

The offensive line struggles have remained a primary issue for years, dating back to the Millen era and beyond.  The Detroit Lions have an opportunity to repair the problem right now by signing free agent and former Lion guard, Larry Warford.

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He’s a monster of a man that’s best used in a power run scheme where he’s asked to overpower a defensive tackle lining up across from him rather than a spread offense or a run and gun style where the offensive guards are asked to get out in front of a ball carrier and hit a moving target in space.  Warford is one of the heaviest guards in football but excels in the proper system.

The Detroit Lions elected to concede starting right guard Graham Glasgow to free agency, allowing the former Michigan Wolverine to sign with the Denver Broncos.  Warford would be an upgrade to Glasgow and prevent Detroit from using that outrageous guard rotation from a year ago again in 2020.

I need to give credit where credit is due. Moving on from the vastly declining Rick Wagner, this offseason was a great move by Quinn and company.  Wagner was a heavily sought after right tackle when he hit the open market and a brilliant signing at the time.  Sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

Detroit brought in the versatile Halapoulivaati Vaitai formally of the Philadelphia Eagles to replace Wagner at right tackle.  Vaitai will be an upgrade from Wagner’s production last season; it would be hard not to exceed those expectations if I’m being frank.  Vaitai is expected to start at right tackle, but he can also play left tackle if something serious were to happen to Taylor Decker.  Vaitai had also spent plenty of time a guard; he leaves Detroit with plenty of options.

If you take what transpired during the NFL Draft, it’s clear that Detroit wants to plug Vaitai in at right tackle after the organization spent their third and fourth picks respectfully on offensive guards.  The Detroit Lions drafted Jonah Jackson out of Ohio State and then Logan Stenberg, who displays plenty of nasty traits in his game out of Kentucky.

Stenberg’s style of play fits perfectly with the city of Detroit, scrappy, tough, resilient, but with that comes a plethora of penalties on the football field.  Stenberg will need to table some of his antics at the professional level where every single play is under a microscope.

I expect Jackson to start at one of the guard positions right from day one, he will certainly need to win the job, but teams don’t draft guards in the third round without expecting them to be plug and play players.  The other starting job should be up for auction to the best performer in training camp and through the NFL preseason.  The second job will be competed for by Joe Dahl, Joshua Garnett, Beau Benzschawel, and Stenberg.

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So, the Detroit Lions OL will consist of two steady components and three question marks.  We know what to expect from the future All-Pro center Frank Ragnow and left tackle Decker; the three others will remain a question mark until we see the unit together on the football field.