Detroit Got Better Offensive Linemen In Free Agency, Can They Find A Gem In This Weak Draft Class?
Welcome to this year’s draft overview series. In this series, I take a look at five possible options at each position that Detroit could end up taking in this years NFL draft.
Since 2014, the Detroit Lions have had problems on the offensive line. In 2015, Detroit drafted Laken Tomlinson in hopes of him replacing Rob Sims, and Tomlinson has been disappointing so far in his career. Last year, Detroit drafted Taylor Decker, with hopes of him becoming a solid starter at the left tackle position and moving Riley Reiff ot the right tackle spot. Decker did well his rookie year and looks like a great pick by Bob Quinn and staff.
Things have changed the past few weeks for Detroit on the line. They are set at left tackle with Decker, and center with Swanson. The left guard spot had rookie Graham Glasgow take over for Tomlinson and that seems to be a position battle that will continue into 2017. The right side of the line though, has just been upgraded. Right guard Larry Warford left for the New Orleans Saints, and his replacement, former Green Bay Packer T.J. Lang. Rick Wagner would sign with Detroit as well, to become the new right tackle, as Riley Reiff would leave after and sign with the Minnesota Vikings.
So in the draft this year, an offensive lineman shouldn’t be taken in the first round. After that, it could be possible if the front office isn’t confident with Glasgow and Tomlinson to start at the left guard position. Luckily for Detroit, they aren’t in need of a starter, and with this week offensive linemen class, they can focus on other positions that are bigger needs for the team.
1. Dan Feeney – G (Indiana)
Here is the only high pick that seems possible for Detroit. While Glasgow did well at left guard last season, Detroit could want to find a true guard to replace him with and improve the line.
Feeney can play both tackle and guard, but he is a better guard than tackle. His feet are light and quick, needing to get to who he needs to block if they start going around him. Solid leading blocker on screens. Has good patience for opponents. He struggles with quick ends and tackles that can get an edge on him. Can never seem to keep a solid blocking stance and/or base. Does have some injury history. He does wait until he is in the right spot to block, instead of going at first come first serve. Has good upper body strength.
If Detroit doesn’t believe that Tomlinson and Glasgow could be starters in 2017, Detroit could add Feeney in the second round to make the line ever better.
2. Kyle Fuller – C (Baylor)
Now we move on to depth players, and Fuller is the first person to look at when it is the third day of the draft.
Fuller has good size for a center, standing at 6’5, arms at 34 1/8″, and weighing at 307 pounds. He is willing to go head on against defenders, and is able to keep them grounded. He does struggle with tackles that are able to go underneath and get around him. He tends to lock with his blocker instead of hopping off to quickly help or make a stop. His hips do have a good pop to make the stop though, and his hands are strong.
Detroit may need a backup center if Glasgow is moving over to left guard. Fuller should be available in the fifth round for Detroit to take.
3. Dan Skipper – OT (Arkansas)
The only tackle on this list, Skipper is somebody you have to keep your eye on and how can’t you, the man is 6’10. Skipper’s size gives him an advantage over majority of defensive ends. He worked in a pro-style offense, so he shouldn’t need to learn too much at the next level. While he does have a good size, it can hurt him against speedy defensive ends. If he gets contested too much, he changes his stance and it makes it easier to bull rush him. Better pass blocker than run blocker. Can be a good leader on screen passes to help create space and block a player. Can adjust himself from defender to defender, knowing when to move on to another player.
Detroit needs another backup to compete for a roster spot as behind Wagner and Decker is Corey Robinson and Cornelius Lucas, and we all know how Lucas plays. Skipper should be available in the fifth round as well.
4. Tyler Orlosky – C (West Virginia)
Another center option here is Tyler Orlosky. Orlosky is a three year starter, so he has loads of experience. Strength and toughness aren’t questioned. Great hands. Does struggle with low blocks. At times when players beat him, he doesn’t know who to help out or what to do. Isn’t quick and blitzing plays hurt him. When blocking he keeps the defender at bay and doesn’t let them go most of the time. Can redirect players to get away from the quarterback.
Again, Detroit may need a center behind Swanson if they don’t want Glasgow to move over and have Tomlinson start. Orlosky is another fifth round option for Detroit.
5. Isaac Asiata – G (Utah)
Another guard finishes this list. Asiata has a big body at the guard position, at 6’3, weighing 323 pounds and arms at 33 3/4″. Can play both guard spots and center if needed. When standing alone, he constantly looks for work and who needs help. Can transition from defender to defender. Sometimes can be hectic when blocking. Can get too aggressive and ruin his blocking. Leads too much on his upper body when it comes to next level blocks and it hurts him. Good lead blocker on screens. Does well with blitzes and quick moves.
Detroit may believe their offensive linemen are fine, but bringing in at guard could be good competition with Joe Dahl and Tomlinson. Also if Detroit has Glasgow as the backup center still, they will need a backup for Tomlinson if he falls in that situation.