Can the Lions offensive line lead the resurgence in 2021?

Detroit Lions Offensive Line (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Lions Offensive Line (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /
4 of 4
Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions Taylor Decker (68) (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) /

Detroit Lions offensive line a bellwether for the team

Spotrac’s website provides us with all data and shows that the Lions are 8th in defensive line spending, in total. Free-agent acquisition Michael Brockers and Romeo Okwara are taking less money this year to offset Flowers’ considerable salary. The unit was recently ranked 24th by PFF coming into 2021 to add some perspective to the cost of the defensive line but also to point out that we’re probably unlikely to get as much value.

While the D-line unit is improving, the conversion to a 3-man front and having little talent there make it an almost complete re-do. The Lions drafted Levi Onwuzurike (2nd Round) at end and Alim McNeil (3rd Round) at nose tackle to inject some size, speed, and explosion into a unit lacking in all three.

It would be hard to make an argument for any other position group to be in the running for near the top of the NFL. PFF ranks the running backs 25th, the secondary 30th, the linebackers 28th, the receivers 31st (including TJ Hockenson at tight end), Goff 26th among quarterbacks, and the roster an overall 31st in the NFL. The offensive line is literally the only unit in the top half of the NFL according to their analysis.

Rankings don’t dictate anything, though, and Detroit doesn’t put much stock in the opinions of experts or the national media. It’s just a comparison and the offensive line is objectively both the most talented and most under-compensated unit, in terms of salary cap spending for 2021.

Perhaps the wide receivers overachieve, or maybe 2020 first-round cornerback, Jeff Okudah, leads a resurgence in the secondary, perhaps D’Andre Swift looks more like Barry Sanders this campaign, or maybe Jared Goff gets results like it’s 2018 again. Who knows? Regardless of surprises, a few of these kinds of events would be great, the O-line just needs to play like they are capable of if we’re going to have success in 2021.

Related Story. NFC North Preview: How do the Detroit Lions stack up?. light

We have the talent there and Anthony Lynn, the offensive coordinator, has to find ways to leverage it into possession time and enough scoring to stay out of big second-half deficits. The division and our other opponents have some formidable defensive fronts, so that will be a large challenge. However, with decent improvement from other position groups, the talented offensive line could pave the way to overachieving as a team.