Returning from last season: Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard
New to the team: Riley Reiff
With the Detroit Lions using this year's first-round pick on Riley Reiff, they now hopefully have their left tackle of the future on the roster. The key word there is future. In 2012, Jeff Backus is expected to continue starting at left tackle. Although he has dealt with some injury issues in the past year, he didn't miss a single game in 2011 and should retain his starting job for at least one more season.
Reiff may have to wait another year or two to take over the starting job at left tackle, but that may not be the case at right tackle. Scott Linehan said back in June that Reiff is "on track" to play early in his career, and that may mean that Gosder Cherilus' status as the starting right tackle could be in jeopardy. He has been very inconsistent at times in the past, and if Reiff is able to come in and prove he should play, Cherilus is likely going to be the offensive lineman relegated to the bench.
In addition to Backus, Cherilus and Reiff, the Lions also have Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard and Jonathan Scott at offensive tackle. These three players will likely be battling for only one or two spots on the 53-man roster. Fox seems to have the most promise of the group strictly based on his talent level, but injury issues remain a big concern. If he can't stay healthy throughout the entire preseason, the Lions may simply move on and cut ties with him. Hilliard would seemingly be a lock to make the team if that were to happen, as he is a reliable, versatile backup at tackle. Scott, who was just recently added when the Lions released Johnny Culbreath, might have something to say about that, though. He has plenty of starting experience and seems like a good fit as a backup.
Need going forward?
The Lions have some pretty nice depth at offensive tackle. They may decide to add a camp body once practice begins, but barring an injury to a starter, I can't see them targeting any free agents of note following the recent addition of Scott.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect the signing of Jonathan Scott and the release of Johnny Culbreath.