The Detroit Lions had a need on the offensive line going into the 2015 Draft. The unit exceeded expectations in 2013 but the effects of injury and age caused them to take a step back in 2014. In order to improve a running game that ranked 28th in yards per carry last season Martin Mayhew had to get the guys up front some help. After the dust settled and all the picks were in it was clear that help was on the way.
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The reload started in the first round when Martin Mayhew scored two interior blockers during the first round of the draft. The first was Manny Ramirez who returned to the Lions after a trade with the Denver Broncos. Ramirez would serve as an insurance policy in the event 2nd year center Travis Swanson fails to develop as planned.
Then with the 28th overall pick Mayhew drafted Laken Tomlinson. The guard from Duke didn’t give up a sack during his collegiate career and plowed the way for another 2015 draft pick Duke Johnson. Johnson went to the Browns in the third round.
They added another tackle in the 7th round when they drafted Corey Robinson.
The addition of Tomlinson in the middle of the line gives the Detroit Lions a very young core of talented linemen they can build around for many years to come. The oldest member of the current groups is also the newest. Manny Ramirez has nine years of pro-experience and played in a Superbowl as a center for the Denver Broncos. That experience should help provide the veteran leadership the young developing line needs.
The next oldest is former first round draft choice Rily Reiff with four years of blocking for Matthew Stafford under his belt. All in all the Detroit Lions have spent 6 draft picks on rebuilding the offensive line since 2012, two of which were 1st rounders. That flies in the face of critics who say Mayhew had been ignoring the offensive line in past seasons.
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Fans can expect the Lions to have a renewed dedication to the running game this season behind this talented young group of big uglies. Rookie running backs Ameer Abdullah (2nd round) and Micheal Burton (5th round) will join a backfield that should be significantly more productive in 2015.
If you are a fan of smash mouth football, the 2015 Detroit Lions should give you plenty to cheer about.