How much better is the Detroit Lions roster on offense?

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Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions
Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Lions O-Line depth, pre-camp

Detroit Lions tackles

Zone-blocking concepts, like the ones Lynn employs, require athletic linemen, in general. Rookie Penei Sewell is a gifted 331-pound athlete and has been running in this kind of system at Oregon. Often, tackles in the scheme are required to reach-block defensive ends or linebackers, depending upon their assignment.

Reach blocks require being quick enough to get to the outside shoulder of the man you are supposed to wall off. For tackles, some of the biggest men in sports, they usually have to track down the best athletes on the defense; it’s much easier to diagram and say than do.

You can see the whole Detroit Lions roster, here.

What some forget is that left tackle, Taylor Decker, came from a college spread offense that used zone concepts in their run game, too. While most draft experts would not classify Decker as an elite athlete, his height, long arms, and short-area burst make him able to function and do well in zone runs.

For reference, there are two basic runs that every zone-blocking scheme has in its playbook, the inside zone, and the “stretch”, or the outside zone. More on those, later.

Tyrell Crosby was the starter at right tackle in 2020 but is likely back to swing tackle after the Lions drafted Sewell in Round 1. Both men are former University of Oregon Ducks, with Crosby serving as Sewell’s mentor in college. Crosby has also been a source of trade rumors that claim that the Lions may move the tackle during the last year of his rookie deal.

Detroit Lions roster depth: rookies denoted by (R), 2020 starters in bold

Taylor Decker, Penei Sewell (R), Tyrell Crosby, Halapoulivaati Vaitai (G/T), Matt Nelson, Dan Skipper

Detroit Lions guards and centers

Interior linemen also must be athletic enough to get to second-level defenders like inside linebackers but still stout enough to handle nose tackles. These are movement-based run plays that look to create creases for their runner, who choose a crease (gap), put their foot in the ground, and go. If plays are blocked well, they actually would give a running back several gaps to run through.

Frank Ragnow inked an extension for four years and $54 million dollars, with $42 million guaranteed.  Jonah Jackson had a successful rookie campaign at left guard, while Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been the main fill-in at right guard. That’s the spot that has to be figured out to solidify the line, which is now stacked with talent better than at any point in recent memory.

Vaitai is a candidate to be let go of next offseason when his dead cap money drops to $4.2 million, according to Spotrac, a sports transaction website.

Detroit Lions guards and centers candidates:

Jonah Jackson, Logan Stenberg (G/C), Tommy Kraemer (R), Evan Heim (R)

Centers: Frank Ragnow, Evan Brown, Drake Jackson (R)

Onto the skill players…