While there’s plenty of questions about the Detroit Lions rebuild for 2022, one spot most folks don’t think of questioning is the offensive line.
The team has done well in recent years to build up the spot, and all of a sudden, the group could be one of the strongest in the league for this coming season given the young talent on the roster.
ESPN, apparently, doesn’t completely agree with that notion.
Recently, the site ranked all offensive lines in the NFL analytically, and ranked them for the 2022 season. Detroit was projected to be 26th in run blocking and 24th in pass blocking this season. As a whole, they placed 26th.
Twitter user Joe Chapp posted a snippet of the analysis in the piece by Seth Walder, which included an analysis of Penei Sewell’s 2021 season:
“After a rough start to his rookie season, Sewell’s numbers improved when he moved over to right tackle. His pass block win rate jumped from 82% to 87% and his run block win rate jumped up from 71% to 73%. Neither right tackle number is elite – they’re both right around average – but perhaps it suggests what ought to be a slightly brighter forecast for his 2022 season than his numbers in aggregate might suggest,” Walder wrote in the piece.
The ranking is more than a bit strange overall. Detroit, by most metrics, projects to have one of the better lines in the league if everyone stays healthy. Analytically speaking, sites like Pro Football Focus seem to love the Lions as a top five unit, adding another odd feel to this piece.
It would be surprising if the Lions had a bottom-half offensive line given the upside and potential the group seems to have, but Walder and ESPN think the team is trending for a very below average year.
Lions Offensive Line Key to Season
In terms of what the Lions want to do this season with the ball, there might be no spot more important than the offensive line.
Detroit’s run game has been lousy for a long time, and with D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, the Lions might finally have the depth and players to grind out more yards on the field in between the tackles. Having a run game that can play a leading role for the team is significant in terms of giving the offense much needed balance.
As it relates to the passing game, the Lions need to give Jared Goff a clean pocket. When Goff has time to set his feet and make plays, the quarterback can make any throw and be one of the more dangerous young passers in the league. With a beefed-up wideout room that now features DJ Chark and will eventually feature Jameson Williams,
The Lions players seem to understand the job, and want to make sure they are the heartbeat of the team. Don’t bet against them stepping up and getting it done.
Depth May Help Lions Line Dominate
Aside from this analysis, many folks think the Lions are on track to have a great season up front, and the hype has been building this entire offseason.
It might be bold to call this group one of the best in the league, but it shows the confidence in the Lions to start the year. Detroit has a pair of solid tackles in Taylor Decker and Sewell, an elite center in Frank Ragnow, a Pro Bowl guard in Jackson and a player who had a very strong bounce-back 2021 in Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Along with the depth the team has found in the likes of Evan Brown, Ryan McCollum, Matt Nelson and Tommy Kraemer, there is no reason the Lions can’t have one of the deepest lines in football. That could be a very important variable for the season.
Detroit is taking on the look of a line that is hard to play against and deep. Not only can they push people around in the run game, but they might be able to give their quarterback an elite pocket in 2022.
If that is the case, it might not matter one bit what these rankings say.
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