Our latest series on the Detroit Lions roster continues with a comparison of the offensive tackle position from 2012 to 2013. Did the Lions improve at offensive tackle? Let's take a look.
2012 OTs: Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard
2013 OTs: Riley Reiff, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard, LaAdrian Waddle, Austin Holtz
The Lions lost both of their starters at offensive tackle from last season with Jeff Backus retiring and Gosder Cherilus signing with the Indianapolis Colts. Despite this, the Lions didn't make any notable moves at offensive tackle this offseason. Both Backus and Cherilus are expected to be replaced with in-house candidates as a result. Riley Reiff should step in for Backus at left tackle and Jason Fox or Corey Hilliard will likely replace Cherilus.
Did they improve?
Say what you want about their overall play, but Backus and Cherilus won't necessarily be easy to replace. They were pretty dependable last season for the Lions, and it would be surprising if there aren't some growing pains for the new starters. Based on that, along with the fact that the Lions lost two starters and simply signed a couple of undrafted free agents this offseason, they did the opposite of improve at this position, at least on paper.
It's entirely possible that the combination of Reiff and Fox/Hilliard will make for a better pair of starters down the road, but I just don't see it happening in 2013. If the new starters are truly more talented than Backus and Cherilus, they shouldn't have been backups last season.
What about compared to 2011?
2011 OTs: Jeff Backus, Gosder Cherilus, Jason Fox, Corey Hilliard
The Lions got better compared to 2011 by adding Reiff to the mix, but it's tough to say they improved with Backus and Cherilus now out of the picture.
(Note: Players listed from 2011 and 2012 are based on the Lions' Week 1 roster in those seasons.)