Lions Add Top ‘Small School Sleeper’ Lineman Called Future NFL Starter

Brad Holmes

Getty Brad Holmes speaking during the 2022 NFL combine.

The Detroit Lions did plenty of work on day one and two of the 2023 NFL draft, so they didn’t have much heavy lifting to do on day three.

The team did, however, add an intriguing piece with one of the picks they did have left over in the fifth-round. With selection 152, the Lions nabbed William & Mary offensive lineman Colby Sorsdal.

While the pick was met with confusion at first thanks to Sorsdal’s small-school background, Duke Manyweather, a noted offensive line trainer, was quick to point out that he thinks Sorsdal is the sleeper of the draft.

“Lions just got the sleeper of the draft Colby Sorsdal,” Manyweather tweeted.

In terms of what Sorsdal brings to the mix as a player, the tape does show a lineman that is very powerful in run blocking according to Devin Jackson.

“Lions get a high upside tackle in Colby Sorsdal. Got to him late in the process but he has some really dominant tape as a run blocker,” Jackson tweeted.

Impressively, Sorsdal did dominate his level of competition in college. As the Lions PR team pointed out after the move, Sorsdal was one of the top lineman in the Football Championship Subdivision, posting a very solid 89.2 PFF run blocking grade for the 2022 season.

“Among all NCAA FCS tackles in 2022, he ranked 3rd with an 89.2 PFF run-blocking grade,” the site tweeted.

Even some of Detroit’s rivals understand what Sorsdal brings to the mix. Twitter user DaBadNewsBears called him the best small-school prospect in the draft, and thinks he has a future at guard in the league.

“Most of you have probably never heard of Colby Sorsdal, but he’s the best small school prospect in this draft. Great pick by the Lions grabbing a guy who has one of the best combinations of blocking in space and lane opening ability in this draft. Future plus starter at guard,” they tweeted.

Eric Galko, an East-West Shrine Bowl executive, admitted that he has liked what he has seen from Sorsdal as well, which made him a late riser in the process.

“Lions fans, you’ve gotten an experienced, versatile OL in Colby Sorsdal. I remember talking to Duke Manyweather about how bullish we were on Colby! Many teams pushed him up late, and the FCS All-American earned his draft pick at ShrineBowl/Pro Day even without a Combine invite,” Galko tweeted.

Add it all up, and it seems like the Lions have something to work with. Given the strength of the team’s line now, they will be able to develop Sorsdal for a potential future role at guard. Given the fact he played tackle, too, he might also have critical position versatility.

Brian Baldinger: Colby Sorsdal ‘Future Starter’

What is Sorsdal’s ceiling as he comes into the league? It’s possible after some seasoning he can be a player that grows to help a team as a starter.

Former NFL offensive lineman and NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger did a tape breakdown of Sorsdal before the draft. As he admitted, he loves some of what he sees from the player, including his moves up front and what he brings to the mix on the field.

“William & Mary’s Colby Sorsdal is a day three prospect who wasn’t invited to the combine was has four critical components; he has size, he has experience, moves very well; and most of all he has toughness. Good looking prospect to me,” Baldinger wrote in the tweet.

In the video breakdown, Baldinger takes things a step further. As he said, he likes what he sees watching Sorsdal in terms of his abilities and mental makeup, and thinks he could start one day as a result.

“You get consistency in his pass set. You watch him and he dominated his level of competition. Physically dominated people. That’s what you want to see. He’s got size, he’s got good movement. You want a guy who’s got a little bit of goon in him. Just never ever hear the whistle. That’s what you want to see. I believe he’s a day three draft pick that can end up starting at guard or tackle for you . You gotta get these kind of guys. You gotta find them,” Baldinger says in the breakdown.

If the Lions could get that kind of result out of Sorsdal, they’d be very pleased down the line.

How Colby Sorsdal Fits Lions’ 2023 Roster

While the team already has a strong offensive line right now and Sorsdal can take time developing, it always made sense they would look to add a depth piece at some point in the draft.

Quietly, the guard position was one of the biggest needs on the Lions for 2023 heading into the draft. The Detroit offensive line is stout overall, but they do have some lingering questions on the interior for the future.

At both tackle positions, the Lions are set with Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. They’ve got a Pro Bowl center in Frank Ragnow, and a Pro Bowl guard in Jonah Jackson. All of these players are young with upside. Perhaps the only weakness is at the other guard spot. Halapoulivaati Vaitai might be ready to return, but his roster position is not guaranteed beyond 2023-2024

Sorsdal could take his time acclimating to the team and honing his skills in 2023, then perhaps transition for a more full-time role at guard in 2024 should he develop quickly. Perhaps he could fight his way into the mix as a reserve in the meantime.

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