Detroit Lions Positional Analysis: How to Improve the Offensive Line

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Kelechi Osemele, LT (Ravens) and Ryan Kelly, C (Alabama)

Sep 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele (72) reacts during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Kelechi Osemele of the Baltimore Ravens is who I figure to be the lesser expensive of the top-tier free agent left tackles on the market. He is a bit unlike the other two options in that he is much stronger in the run game than the pass game, and is potentially the best run blocking left tackle in the NFL currently. His acquisition would make the Lions equally as effective at run blocking on the left and right sides with guards Warford and Tomlinson being so similarly skilled inside. Osemele, however, would leave something to be desired in pass protection and the Lions would need to improve other spots along the line accordingly.

Nov 28, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Ryan Kelly (70) sets to pass block against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Enter Alabama center Ryan Kelly. Ryan Kelly has allowed zero sacks in 2015 and was 2015’s Rimington Trophy winner as the best center in college football. If the Lions have the stomach for taking a center in the top two rounds of the draft after selecting Travis Swanson in the third round just a couple of years ago, this would be the guy to target. Kelly is as balanced as they come and has prototypical size at center. He is experienced in protection calling and was also SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, boasting intelligence in the position on the offensive line it matters most, which Swanson has arguably missed.

Any of the proposed solutions would upgrade the situation on the offensive line and it is important that the Lions acquire both talent and experience in the pursuit of that upgrade. Putting some of the salary cap into a free agent in conjunction with using one of the team’s many picks for a youthful upgrade is, to me, undoubtedly the right approach and could propel Matthew Stafford into a top 10 quarterback in the NFL next season if properly executed.