Detroit Lions: Former first-rounder having terrific training camp so far

Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are getting excellent early offensive line play from one of their veterans

The Detroit Lions had their work cut out for them this offseason. Coming off a 3-12-1 record and a mandate from ownership to become a playoff contender in 2020, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia face an uphill battle.

One of the areas on the roster that they focused on this offseason was offensive line. And that’s understandable considering the Lions lost their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, for eight games last season due to a back injury.

Detroit parted ways with longtime veteran offensive linemen in starting right guard Graham Glasgow and right tackle Rick Wagner. In their place, the Lions signed former Philadelphia Eagles backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year, $50 million. And they used a third-round selection on Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson.

The Lions will be relying on the play and leadership of their two former first-rounders along their offensive line to help bring some continuity to the unit. Those veteran lineman being starting left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow. According to Tim Twentyman of, Decker has shined in training camp early.

"“Left tackle Taylor Decker has had a terrific start to his training camp, and he’s been especially good in the one-on-one reps against the defensive linemen. I’ve maybe seen him lose one rep in the last week … The fifth-year left tackle has been an anchor upfront in training camp. He’s been consistently really good.”"

Last season, Decker received an overall score of 75.5 from Pro Football Focus, his highest since his rookie season. The 27-year old also played the most offensive snaps on the entire Lions’ team last year, playing in a total of 1,017 snaps (94.25%). Decker’s entering the final year of his rookie deal in Motown.

The careers of both Decker and Ragnow are on an uptick, which is good news for the future of the  Lions’ offensive line. Yet, this unit allowed 43 total sacks in 2019, which tied for 13th most in the NFL. And their rushing offense averaged 103.1 per game, which ranked 20th.

The Lions certainly hope the improved play of their former first-rounders combined with the additions the team made this offseason is enough to improve on those numbers from last year.

As for the running game, the addition of rookie running back D’Andre Swift to the backfield should certainly help. Although SideLion Report’s own Jeremy Friedrichs believes a successful running game will depend primarily on the performance of the offensive line.

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In the end, this could shape up to be a career year for Taylor Decker entering his fifth season with the Detroit Lions, as the early reports coming out of training camp have been stellar. If that trend continues into the regular season, Decker could be signed to a longterm extension soon.