Taylor Decker Is the Best Athlete On Lions OL

Taylor Decker was taken by the Lions with their first-round pick and is expected to start at left tackle, Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Taylor Decker was taken by the Lions with their first-round pick and is expected to start at left tackle, Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
Taylor Decker
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been said that Martin Mayhew was a middling GM.  I know Detroit Lions fans don’t look back fondly upon the Mayhew tenure, but that is largely correct.  One thing he was terrible at, and unarguably so, is finding athletic offensive linemen.  Only one of the Lions starting offensive linemen in 2015 had an average RAS.  Note that I don’t say “or better” after that.  Their best guy broke average, the rest were well below.  Taylor Decker doesn’t come in as a supreme athlete, but the simple fact that he made it over that average athlete mark puts him above the rest of the line to start his career.  Can he show it on the field better than someone like Warford did?

The first starter for the Lions was Riley Reiff, whose RAS ended up below 4.00.  A close comparison athletically to the man he was replacing, Jeff Backus, Reiff has been alright at left tackle, but is probably topped out at that level. /
Their most recent pick was Laken Tomlinson.  The former Duke guard was known for his smarts as much as his blocking skill, but his athleticism wasn’t hugely evident on tape and though he measured below what I expected, I didn’t really expect huge numbers. /
One of their weakest spots on the line was Travis Swanson.  The former 3rd round pick out of Arkansas was severely out-of-place in Joe Lombardi’s offense, and it showed.  A shoulder injury limited him further, but he wasn’t a great athlete to begin with. /
That brings us to the best lineman so far.  Health has limited him, but Larry Warford has consistently been the top OL for the Detroit Lions.  He famously showed up to the combine looking ‘sloppy’ overweight, but worked himself back into shape with LeCharles Bentley.  New Lions tackle Taylor Decker has also been working with Bentley and looks vastly improved from his OSU days. /
Michael Ola isn’t a great tackle, in fact he isn’t even a tackle.  Still, he graded out as an average one due to some nice agility numbers.  He was okay as a short-term stand in last season, but it was clear the position needed an upgrade. /
That brings us to the new guy.  Unlike Warford, Taylor Decker came into the combine in great shape, but his limitations that crept up on tape at OSU weren’t as evident in drills.  He has been essentially the poster child for LeCharles Bentley this offseason, who has been posting videos of Decker working in different drills to improve.  His RAS isn’t mind-blowing, but with the bench being the only area Decker measured truly poorly (And that being the least correlative to NFL success), his score could have been much higher. /

What do you think, Detroit Lions fans?  Do you think Taylor Decker was the right pick?  Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter @SideLionReport, or ask me about metrics @MathBomb.

Next: Detroit Lions Draft: Final Thoughts