Will trench play lead the Lions resurgence in 2021?

Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions (Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press - Syndication: Detroit Free Press)
Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions (Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press - Syndication: Detroit Free Press) /

The Detroit Lions forced many changes this offseason as they looked to rebuild their team following a disastrous three-year run under former head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. Perhaps too many changes to be competitive in 2021.

The biggest change has been at quarterback with the trading away of Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason. As a result, the Lions will now feature two-time Pro Bowl passer Jared Goff under center.

The new regime in Detroit also went about the business of retooling the coaching staff and the roster, but the rebuild is considered far from being complete. But the team did make it clear how they want to rebuild this offseason as they started in the trenches.

During the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions used their first three draft selections to significantly strengthen its trench play. They started with their offensive line, which was already considered one of the bright spots from a team that finished 5-11 last season.

Left tackle Taylor Decker, center Frank Ragnow, and rookie guard Jonah Jackson are a very talented foundation for the new regime to build upon. Despite their presence, the new regime in Detroit decided to use the seventh overall selection to acquire the draft’s top offensive lineman in Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. If the 20-year old lives up to his lofty billing, he could the Lions’ top offensive lineman as a rookie.

With their second-round selection, the Lions drafted Washington defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike. Detroit then surprisingly selected another defensive tackle in North Carolina State’s Alim McNeill with their first of two picks in the third round.

Combined with a trade for Rams’ veteran defensive tackle Michael Brockers, the new regime in Detroit has completely revamped the interior of their defensive line. Throw veteran defensive ends Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara in the mix, and this positional group appears to be one of the strongest in the NFL.

But the Lions’ focus on quality trench play has come at a cost. Detroit enters training camp with several questions about the talent level at other key positions like wide receiver, linebacker, safety, and more.

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If the Detroit Lions are going to be successful, it’s clear the new regime in Motown believes that their improved trench play will lead the way. But their choice to invest so heavily into building from the inside out has many wondering if they have enough talent elsewhere on the roster to take advantage of it.