As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Draft, we are going to take a look at each position on the Detroit Lions roster. We continue the series with a look at the Lions' offensive guards and centers.
Free agents: Dylan Gandy (UFA)
The Lions have all three of their interior offensive line starters set to return in 2014. Rob Sims is back as the starting left guard after a bit of a down year in 2013, and Larry Warford is back as the starting right guard after a dominant rookie season. Warford was actually one of the top guards in all of the NFL in 2013. Similarly, Dominic Raiola was one of the top centers in all of the NFL last season, and he's back for another year in Detroit after recently re-signing with the Lions.
There is actually some uncertainty with the backup positions at guard and center. Leroy Harris is shockingly still on the team for now despite having a $1.85 million base salary for 2014, and he currently appears to be the top backup. Rodney Austin is also a backup after getting promoted from the practice squad last season. He seems like a better fit for guard than center, but he's still developing as a player and could potentially be in the mix to start at either position in a year or two.
The other interior offensive linemen are Darren Keyton and Dylan Gandy. We already know that Gandy isn't going to be re-signed after serving as the Lions' top backup at guard and center for the last five seasons. Keyton, on the other hand, signed a futures deal this offseason with the Lions. He was also with the team last year as a camp body, and chances are he will be in a similar situation this year.
Need going forward?
With Raiola back under contract, the Lions' starters are set at guard and center. They could still use a bit more depth for the interior of the O-line, though. With Harris apparently sticking around, they don't necessarily need a veteran, but they could use another developmental player -- perhaps a center who could be groomed to eventually replace Raiola -- to go along with Austin.