Detroit Lions offensive line expects to be great in 2022
The Detroit Lions never had their projected starting five offensive lineman together for a game last year, so it’s natural to expect big things in 2022.
After taking Penei Sewell seventh overall in the 2021 draft, the Detroit Lions looked like this across their starting offensive line.
LT: Taylor Decker
LG: Jonah Jackson
C: Frank Ragnow
RG: Halapoulivaati Vaitai
RT: Penei Sewell
It was not a reach to say that looked like one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. And until days before Week 1, it was intact. Ultimately, the five would never be on the field together in 2021.
Decker suffered a finger injury, which cost him the first eight games of the season. Sewell moved to left tackle while Decker was out, and Matt Nelson stepped in at right tackle.
Then in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears, Ragnow suffered what would be a season-ending turf toe injury. Evan Brown filled in capably for him, but there’s no replacing a Pro Bowl center.
Jackson had a breakthrough season, earning a Pro Bowl nod as an alternate and ultimately being able to play in the game. Sewell had a rough couple games as a pass blocker in October, but overall he had a fine rookie season.
Detroit Lions offensive line eyeing greatness for 2022
In December last season, Pro Football Focus cited the improvement of the Lions’ offensive line from the start of the campaign. Decker being available is the easy thing to tab there, but it’s pretty clear the unit became better all the way around upon working together more.
Lions’ players had media availability on Thursday. Ragnow and Jackson were among those who spoke. Ragnow said he’s fully healthy. Via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, Ragnow talked about the offensive line’s potential.
"I think we can be pretty dang good,” Ragnow said. “It’s obviously all on us, and it’s really where we want to take ourselves and push ourselves. But if you look talent-wise and just look at the dudes across the line, I mean, they were pretty dang good last year too. I’d love to help them and boost them, and I think if we all get going and jell and stay healthy, I think we can be a pretty dang good O-line.”"
Jackson went a little further.
“I said it last year, and I’m (going to) stand on it, man, I think we can be the best in the league,” Jackson said. “I know we can be the best in the league. We just got to come up to work every day.”
A full slate of games for Decker and Ragnow will go a long way to the Lions’ offensive line reaching its full potential in 2022. Sewell and Jackson look like future stalwarts. Vaitai seems ripe to be replaced, but he did play better last season and is a mentor to Sewell.
The Lions have multiple weak areas and needs heading into the draft. Offensive line is not one of them, shy of cultivating depth/drafting someone to groom as Vaitai’s cheaper eventual replacement.