Almost any Detroit Lions fan knows, the offensive line has a whole new look going into the 2017 season, but just how different is it?
With a couple key offseason additions, the right side of the line should be an upgrade over last year featuring TJ Lang and Rick Wagner. However, both players on the left will differ from the starting O-line of the 2016 team.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) May 17, 2017
Last season, the Lions started Taylor Decker at left tackle and Laken Tomlinson at left guard. Neither of the aforementioned players will start along the offensive line for various reasons come week 1. Decker tore his labrum in his shoulder and will most likely start the year on the PUP.
Tomlinson was not holding his own in his starts and was outplayed and replaced by 2016 third-round pick, Graham Glasgow.
Travis Swanson, the incumbent center, is the only starter from the 2016 season set to be in a position to start in the 2017 season.
New tackles Greg Robinson/Cyrus Kouandjio and Wagner will take over the ends. Glasgow and Lang will man the inside along with Swanson.
— Detroit Lions Fans (@LionsNewsNow) June 22, 2017
The biggest key to this line will be health. Decker is already out with an injury, and Swanson missed the last 5 games (including the playoffs) last year with a concussion. Lang had offseason hip surgery which has curtailed his offseason workouts. The other newcomer, Wagner, is healthy and ready to go at this time. Important to note, Wagner had lisfranc foot surgery back in December of 2014. He has recovered nicely but he did also suffer a concussion causing him to miss his final game with the Baltimore Ravens. With four of the Lions’ five starting linemen coming off of head injuries or surgeries, it is hard to predict how this line is going to hold up over the long season.
A shoulder injury for Taylor Decker is not good news for the Lions. He was our second highest graded rookie OT in 2016. pic.twitter.com/TMjvxxeF4j
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 6, 2017
Looking for some more depth, the Lions signed free agent OT Kouandjio from the Buffalo Bills, as well as traded for OT Greg Robinson, a former #2 overall pick from the Los Angeles Rams. Kouandjio played well in his spot duty at tackle last year while Robinson’s poor play at LT forced him to move inside to play guard. Although neither of these two will make us forget Decker, they should cushion the blow. Plus, with the versatility of these new additions, the Lions will have a lot more options if someone else on the line goes down.
Cyrus Kouandjio visited the Lions today. He impressed as a reserve in 2016. pic.twitter.com/kQ68HIclAq
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 7, 2017
Pro Football Focus Rankings of the Detroit Lions O-Line:
(using 2016 season numbers)
2017: Projected Starters
LT Robinson- 43.0 (Poor)
LG Glasgow- 39.1(Poor)
C Swanson- 77.2 (Average)
RG Lang- 86.3 (High Quality)
RT Wagner- 84.5 ( Above Average)
LT Decker- 80.7 (Above Average)
LG Tomlinson- 43.9 (Poor)
C Swanson- 77.2 (Average)
RG Warford- 81.0 (Above Average)
RT Reiff- 70.0 (Average)