In what will be an ongoing series, I will be taking a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster and examine where things stand, who has the best shot at making the final 53-man roster, and whether or not we improved in this area. Next up, center.
Current players on roster: Dominic Raiola, Travis Swanson
In the last five games of the season, Raiola did not give up a single sack, hit, or hurry on Matthew Stafford.
Despite having such a great 2013 season, Raiola is not getting any younger at 35-years-old, and has one year left on his contract. The Lions drafted Travis Swanson as his eventual replacement in the third-round of this year’s draft, and he’ll be looking for some tips as the season commences.
Chances of making final roster: 100% (starting center)
Swanson wasn’t a sexy pick for the Detroit Lions in the third-round, but it was a necessary one. He’s in a perfect situation where he can develop behind Raiola and Sims. The Lions are hoping that Swanson can take over the center position next year assuming Raiola leaves, but if he’s not ready and Raiola has another solid year, then don’t be surprised to see another one-year contract for Raiola.
Swanson will need to bulk up if he wants to have any success at the professional level. At the NFL Combine he only lifted 20 bench reps, and saw himself lying on his back a little too often at Arkansas.
He does have great technique to play the position, however, and can be relied upon, as he started 50 games for the Razorbacks in his college career.
Swanson will have a chance to compete for the starting left guard and center job, but he will have to have a strong camp if he wants to make it that far.
Chances of making final roster: 85% (backup center/left guard)
Did We Improve?
Dominic Raiola is playing at the highest level of his career and we have better depth at center than we had last year, with multiple players that can play both guard and center if needed.