Detroit Lions: Travis Swanson or Manny Ramirez at Center in 2015?


The Detroit Lions have a good problem on their hands — depth and competition on the offensive line.

It’s absolutely so secret that the Detroit Lions offensive line was less-than stellar in 2014. In fact, the unit as a whole was seemingly labeled as the teams weakest link near the end of the season. That label wasn’t unwarranted either. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked a career-high 45 times in 2014 and the running game was all but nonexistent.

Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When NFL Free Agency kicked off on March 10 of this year, fans everywhere hoped (and expected) that general manager Martin Mayhew would hit the streets early and land one of the few big name guys on the open market. When that didn’t happen, rumblings on social media began, and fans began to doubt the competence of Mayhew and company.

Then came the 2015 NFL Draft.

We would eventually find out that the trade to bring former Lion Manny Ramirez back to Detroit from the Denver Broncos had been in place for days prior to the drafts kick off, and once the trade was announced on NFL Network and ESPN, fans were generally happy. Even more so once the Laken Tomlinson pick was announced at No. 28 overall.

More from Lions News

In a matter of minutes, Mayhew, Tom Lewand and the rest of the Detroit Lions brass had added a surplus of depth, youth and experience to the area of the team that surely needed it the most. It also brought an element to the team that will help everyone involved — competition.

Ramirez or Swanson?

Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

This question has been raised since the addition or Ramirez one month ago, but it may not be as much of a competition as some would expect. The Lions drafted Swanson in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft for a reason — to play center in 2015. This gave Swanson one year to learn under long-time Lion Dominic Raiola, although he would actually get a chance to play due to the large amount of injuries the team suffered throughout the year.

Now, 2015 is here, and all signs continue to be that Swanson is the guy.

At Detroit Lions OTA’s (organized team activities), four centers found themselves on the field snapping footballs to the four quarterbacks at camp. So who was snapping the ball to Matthew Stafford?

Yes, Swanson.

The former Arkansas Razorback isn’t getting ahead himself however, having this to say on Wednesday after the conclusion of the teams workouts.

"Via Mike O’Hara of“It’s the second day of OTAs. It’s too early to draw conclusions on anything. I know everyone is different, but it’s still so early in the football year. The only way you can draw a conclusion is when whoever comes out there at any position at the end when the preseason is over with.”“That’s when your conclusion – quote unquote – will be set in stone. And even at that point, it’s not ever set in stone.”"

While it is too early to say that the competition is decided, the position is seemingly Swanson’s to lose.

"“I just want to make sure we’re as cohesive a unit with as good chemistry as there is in the league,” Swanson said. “We got together to start working on that chemistry. That’s what you need on the offensive line.“That’s the main part of my job – when we got up here, to make sure everyone was on the same page. That’s something that doesn’t happen overnight.”"

“I don’t have any expectations either way. Everybody competes for every job. It’s a meritocracy, so everybody comes in and competes. We’ll see what happens.” – Martin Mayhew

On the interior of the offensive line, the most likely scenario is Swanson at center, Tomlinson at left guard and Larry Warford at right guard for the third straight year. While Ramirez may not start, (pending injuries of course) he will still play a vital role on this Lions squad.

Ramirez, 32, is entering his ninth season and started 43 games for a playoff team in Denver the last three years. The Lions lost Raiola as well as veterans Rob Sims, Garrett Reynolds and Corey Hilliard, and besides Ramirez, the oldest lineman who’s started a game for the Lions is 26-year-old left tackle Riley Reiff. That veteran experience could prove to be just as pivotal as the depth brought to the team.

Next: Detroit Lions OTA's: Day Two Recap