1. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions may have taken the number one spot in a landslide, but then left tackle Taylor Decker went down with an injury. Still, the team addressed their needs this offseason and it paid off. They even let key linemen walk in free agency, yet found a way to improve at the position.
The returning starters sans the injured Decker, are guard Graham Glasgow and center Travis Swanson. Glasgow came in last year due to injuries to the line and put together a great season at the guard position. Then when Swanson went down with a head injury, he was able to step in at center and continue giving the team solid production. I see him as more of a guard now, but having a player of his caliber able to play multiple positions is great for Detroit.
Swanson really came into his own last year pre-injury. In his first year starting at center, his struggles were noticeable. In year two, however, he really learned how to handle the position. The only concerns with him are that he returns to his early form and that his injury doesn’t become a regular thing. Fortunately, I think the team handled him well by making him sit out, so he should be great this year.
The newest face on the line is an ex-top draft pick, left tackle Greg Robinson. Robinson came to the Lions in a trade last week as a low risk, high reward guy to fill in for Decker this season. A change of scenery might save his career because since coming into the league he has been flirting with the bust label.
In free agency, the Lions went out and signed big names. They hit two home runs, as these two players have the most talent on the line as well. First is right tackle, Rick Wagner. Wagner signed after spending his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Where it was thought the Lions might be in trouble if they lost Reiff, they instead upgraded.
Finally is guard T. J. Lang. Lang is a local guy, growing up in Royal Oak, Michigan and finally chose to come back home. Getting a guy of Lang’s skill is great, and prying him from the Green Bay Packers is that much better. He will give Detroit’s interior a major boost along with providing the leadership that the line has been missing since Dominic Raiola left.