The Detroit Lions made a valiant effort to fix their offensive line woes in the 2020 NFL draft. But still, a surprising new free agent would help the team.
Going into the 2020 offseason, the Detroit Lions had a big need at both of the offensive guard positions. While Joe Dahl has shown that he can be a perfectly average guard for the team, it was hoped that the Lions would go into free agency planning to sign a proven quality guard and then draft another one on Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Instead, Detroit made minimal signings at the position in free agency and then drafted Jonah Jackson in round three and Logan Stenberg in the fourth round of the draft. Right now, it looks like the Lions will roll with Dahl as the starting left guard. And then either Jackson, Stenberg, Kenny Wiggins, or a combination of the three at right guard. It would be acceptable for just one of these four to be a starting guard but with two of them as starters, both the starting and depth quality will be in question.
Fortunately for Detroit, there is a way to add a Pro Bowl guard to the starting offensive line, which would, in turn, make their depth at the position look much better. This is only an option after the New Orleans Saints surprisingly cut guard Larry Warford after three consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, in what can only be described as a salary cap-saving move.
Warford is the type of guard that the Lions have gone after this year and in the draft. He is an above-average run-blocker and a solid and reliable, though not spectacular, pass-blocker.
Warford has gone to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons with the Saints, thanks to his reliable and steady play along the interior of their line. In 2019, after playing 970 offensive snaps, he graded out at an overall grade of 73.1 by Pro Football Focus. He was an above-average pass blocker and a high-quality run blocker.
If the Lions plugged in Warford at right guard, and then let the quartet of Dahl, Wiggins, Jackson, and Stenberg fight it out for the left guard spot, Detroit would be surprisingly set along the offensive line. Frank Ragnow would anchor it all at center, Warford would seamlessly replace Graham Glasgow at right guard, and then Halapoulivaati Vaitai would finish filling out the right side at tackle.
Left tackle would be played by Taylor Decker, who improved greatly as the season progressed. And left guard would be the winner of the position battle between the previously mentioned quartet.
Not only would the starting offensive line look good and be a position of optimism, but the interior depth would also look great with three of the above quartet as the top three interior reserves plus either Oday Aboushi (best overall player) or Beau Benzschawel (best pure center) as the fringe fourth interior lineman. At the end of the day, signing Warford and creating a reunion between him and the Detroit Lions would be a huge win for the team.