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, offensive guard.
After Stephen Peterman‘s release in 2013 due to poor pass protection, the Detroit Lions had an immediate need at right guard. The 2013 NFL Draft was full of talent on the interior line and many believed that Larry Warford was a steal in the third-round.
Not only did Warford prove to be the best interior lineman for the Lions, but he was graded as the second best right guard in the NFL and was named 2013 Pro Football Focus Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Warford lined up for every snap in 2013 and did not allow a single sack all year, with only 10 QB hurries allowed.
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Chances of making final roster: 100% (starting right guard)
Things can change pretty quickly if you’re Rob Sims. He was regarded as the best offensive lineman on the Detroit Lions roster just a year ago, but was eclipsed by his fellow starters who all had impressive seasons.
Sims is currently the highest paid offensive lineman on the Lions roster with nearly a $3.8 million cap hit.
Behind Sims the guard position is relatively thin, so there likely won’t be much of a threat of losing his job as a starter, unless Rodney Austin or rookie center/guard Travis Swanson have an impressive camp.
Chances of making final roster: 100% (starting left guard)
Austin was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lions in 2012 and has spent most of his career on the practice squad.
He was promoted to the active roster last year after reports of the Tennessee Titans being interested in signing him off of the practice squad.
Austin will be competing with Swanson and will likely be rotating in for Warford and Sims as the top backup guard for the Lions.
Chances of making final roster: 80% (top backup guard)
Keyton joined the team after impressing coaches during 2013 minicamps.
The Lions have kept four guards in the past, but Keyton is going to have an uphill battle trying to make the 53-man roster with rookie Travis Swanson being capable of playing both center and guard.
Chances of making final roster: 20% (on the bubble)
With the First Pick
Bullard is a product of the Tennessee Volunteers (transfered from Notre Dame) and has the ability to play all three interior guard positions. He’s a bit undersized (6’2”, 300 lbs.), but he’s powerful and has a mean streak to him.
Chances of making final roster: 0% (long-shot, possible practice squad member)
Morrell is a big-bodied power blocker that spent most of his time as a right guard for Old Dominion, but also had a couple of starts as a right tackle.
He will be another candidate for a possible spot on the practice squad.
Chances of making final roster: 0% (long-shot)
Bryce Quigley is the latest member the Detroit Lions. He was signed immediately after the release of Chris Houston.
Quigley was converted to offensive tackle from his original position at tight end by the San Diego State Aztecs. He is listed as a guard on the Lions official team website, and he’ll likely get some reps in as both a tackle and a guard.
Chances of making final roster: 0% (camp body)
Did They Improve?
The Lions keep the same starters from last year, but have a slight decrease in depth compared to last year. Rodney Austin and Travis Swanson will earn the honors of backing up Warford and Sims and neither have received a regular season NFL snap yet.
If either Warford or Sims go down to an injury, there will be serious cause for concern at the guard position.