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 tackles.
Under contract: Riley Reiff (2015 + team option for 2016), LaAdrian Waddle (2015), Cornelius Lucas (2016), Michael Williams (2016)
Free agents: Corey Hilliard (UFA)
On paper, you might think the offensive tackle position is set for the Lions. At left tackle, for example, the Lions have Riley Reiff, who is going into his third year as a full-time starter. Reiff has played fairly well as the Lions' starting left tackle, but Martin Mayhew has not ruled out the possibility of Reiff moving to right tackle.
Speaking of right tackle, the Lions also have a returning starter at that spot as long as LaAdrian Waddle is able to stay healthy. That's actually a big "if" given the injury issues he had in 2014, but when healthy, Waddle has fared pretty well as the starter.
The top backup at offensive tackle is Cornelius Lucas. Like Waddle, he joined the Lions as an undrafted free agent and was forced into action as a starter during his rookie year. Lucas seemed more comfortable at left tackle than right tackle, but he could get a look at both spots depending on what happens with Reiff.
The Lions also have Michael Williams, who made the switch from tight end to offensive tackle last year and spent the 2014 season on the practice squad. He showed some good potential in the preseason, and he could be in position to actually be on the 53-man roster this year. I suppose that will ultimately depend on if Corey Hilliard is re-signed and if the Lions make any other additions to this position.
Need going forward?
As mentioned, this position appears to be set on paper. Appears is the key word there. Although the Lions have returning starters at both tackle spots and some good depth as well, this is a position the team could look to address early in this year's draft. Adding a tackle in the first round, for example, would give the Lions more overall talent at the position and the flexibility to move Reiff over to the right side (or even inside to left guard). My feeling is that the Lions are comfortable with Reiff staying at left tackle if nothing changes, but there seems to be a desire for more consistency at right tackle. As a result, whether that extra consistency comes in the form of drafting someone specifically for that spot or drafting someone who will push Reiff over to right tackle, it seems likely that the Lions will make some sort of notable move at offensive tackle this offseason.
Previously: Quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end