Detroit Lions Review and Offseason Plan: Center


Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Today we take a look at how Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola performed during the 2012 season with a little help from the fine folks at Pro Football Focus.

The radar chart below shows the Pro Football Focus grades for Raiola and compares him to the best, worst and league average ratings at his position. PFF grades each player on each play to produce a massively useful tool for evaluating the totality of a player’s season compared to others at his position.

2012 Season Review
To some, Dominic Raiola is an undersized center that needs to be replaced immediately. To others, he’s indispensable as the brain and heart of the offensive line. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and that’s just about where Raiola ranks among the league’s centers according to Pro Football Focus. Just look at the radar chart above. He tracks quite well with the average, exceeding it slightly overall but occasionally falling just short. Raiola’s +6.2 pass block rating was good for sixth best and while his run block rating was slightly below average, he didn’t grade out as a total liability there (+0.2).

Offseason Plan
This is tough. While Raiola performed decently on the whole, it was a bounce-back year after two stinkers. At this point in his career, which type of season are the Lions most likely to get if they move forward with him in 2013? It’s hard to argue against the two stinkers. Having already moved on from Stephen Peterman, the Lions can get away with bringing back Raiola while grooming a center to take over in 2014 after his contract expires. However, if they feel that they can replace Raiola with little or no drop off in performance, he could be on the chopping block this offseason as the Lions look to save some money. Raiola is set to have one of the higher cap numbers among centers in 2013.

Previously: Wide Receivers, Offensive Tackles, Guards

*Those that have been around the Detroit Lions blogosphere for a while may recognize the approach presented as similar to Ty Schalter’s ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ series on The Lions in Winter. Don’t worry, he’s cool with what I’m doing here and has assured me that he’ll be back with Old Mother Hubbard later in the offseason.

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