Despite adding two talented free agents this offseason, an analytic site ranks the Detroit Lions’ offensive line among the lowest in the NFL.
This upcoming season was supposed to mark an uptick in play from the Detroit Lions‘ offensive line. If the O-line could step up in the Motor City, then maybe the team’s stagnant rushing attack would open up. And maybe quarterback Matthew Stafford would stay upright longer.
Part of that resurgence started this offseason when the Lions signed former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang to a three-year, $28.5 million deal in March to solidify the right guard position. The 29-year old Lang is coming off his first Pro Bowl selection last season.
But Detroit’s front office wasn’t done. They also signed right tackle Ricky Wagner to a monster five-year, $47.5 million contract. Wagner is one of the best pass blockers in the NFL and is being highly paid to do so in the Motor City.
Both signings showed a tremendous commitment by this Lions’ team to be much improved in the trenches. Unfortunately, those plans went awry when 2016 first round pick Taylor Decker injured his shoulder in practice a few weeks ago.
Decker, the Lions’ starting left tackle, is expected to be sidelined four to six months. That makes his estimated return to be anywhere between October and December. The Lions’ front office responded by trading for L.A. Rams right tackle Greg Robinson. They also signed former Buffalo Bills lineman Cyrus Kouandjio,
But neither player is anywhere close to Decker’s talent level, as the 22-year old was unquestionably the best player along the offensive line at it’s most important position. His loss caused the analytic website Pro Football Focus to rank the Lions’ O-line the 24th worst in the NFL.
"“The loss of Taylor Decker crushes the Lions ranking here. Going from him to Greg Robinson is a night-and-day difference,” Michael Renner wrote for Pro Football Focus recently. “It doesn’t help that Robinson will be sat next to easily the weakest position on the Lions line where neither high draft picks in Graham Glasgow nor Laken Tomlinson have proved themselves even average starters.”"
Without tackle Taylor Decker anchoring the left side of the offensive line, the Detroit Lions figure to be at the mercy of some of the most devastating pass rushing right defensive ends in the NFL. That doesn’t bode well for the health of quarterback Matthew Stafford or the overall effectiveness of this Detroit Lions’ offensive as a whole in 2017.