The Detroit Lions have had a busy offseason and that has set them up well for a huge 2020 year on the field, but what story should folks be following the closest?
Recently, NFL.com analyst and former league general manager Charley Casserly took a look at picking out the top story for the team in a divisional preview and he said that from his perspective, the team’s offensive line generates the biggest question ahead of the new season.
“The offensive line has been a project of Matt Patricia’s since he took over in 2018. The unit will be key to the running game, which should take pressure off Matthew Stafford and afford him better protection. Lions fans have reason to be optimistic: LT Taylor Decker has shown a lot of growth as a player and leader, while C Frank Ragnow, who makes the line calls, has Pro Bowl potential. Free-agent acquisition Halapoulivaati Vaitai gives the unit a big, physical player and brings it closer to becoming a mean, nasty group. The addition of rookies Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg at guard should also help the O-line become more physical.”
Detroit’s offensive line has been re-made this offseason, and the changes should theoretically help the team moving forward with getting tougher in the trenches. If there’s one thing the Lions need it’s more physicality to help the running game and more consistency in pass blocking.
If the Lions can find both of those elements from their new offensive line, they will be in good shape moving forward this coming season. To that end, it is the spot to watch moving forward that could determine what direction the team’s season takes.
Lions Defensive Line Called Biggest Remaining Weakness
Recently, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated took a look at naming all the biggest needs still left for teams in the NFC. When it came to the Lions, there was a familiar spot of the defensive line
“This includes the Lions’ pass rush, which accumulated a league-worst 24% pass rush win rate and a less than ideal 21st in rushing yards surrendered. The Lions also parted ways with Damon Harrison, quite possibly the single most dominant run stopping force in the NFL over the past 10 years. This is not a team that can be fixed with the addition of one player, though the Lions’ coaching staff is certainly drafting that way.”
Detroit added Danny Shelton this offseason and drafted Julian Okwara and John Penisini, but in the mind of Orr that’s not enough to get the Lions over the hump. The Lions still have options on the market like Everson Griffen and Jabaal Sheard which could add some punch to the front, and they are hoping for a bigger season out of Trey Flowers.
Still, it does feel there is a little something left to be desired here. The good news? Detroit’s offensive line is not included on this list.
Lions Competition Along Offensive Line
The Lions have an interesting situation brewing at guard with Oday Aboushi, Beau Benzschawel, Josh Garnett, Russell Bodine and Joe Dahl. Rookies Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg were added in the draft. As it stands today, this group seems weaker than having Graham Glasgow in the mix himself, which is obvious given how solid and stout Glasgow was up front for the team.
Additionally, Tyrell Crosby could be in the mix if the team elects to use him at guard instead of tackle, but he figures to slot in at tackle for the team in 2020 given the newfound depth at guard after the draft.
It’s pretty safe to say seeing what happens at guard will be the major question and the major issue to watch the rest of the offseason and whenever workouts might resume. For now, Decker is one of the players who is seemingly entrenched up front at tackle, but competition will be brewing both now and in the future.
The Lions have more depth and interesting players up front which could make the offensive line the spot to watch the rest of the offseason.