When the Detroit Lions moved Michael Williams from tight end to offensive tackle last year, the position switch made a lot of sense. When Williams was first drafted, his blocking ability was viewed as his biggest attribute, and he was really looked at as a potential sixth offensive lineman anyway. Simply moving him to tackle was a sensible progression for his career.
On Thursday, the Lions' decision to move defensive tackle Xavier Proctor to offensive tackle came a bit out of left field. After all, Proctor had spent the last two seasons on the practice squad as a defensive tackle, so why make such a sudden change at this point in his career? As it turns out, Proctor isn't necessarily completely new to the offensive tackle position, and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell explained the thought process behind the switch after Thursday's practice. (Via the Lions.)
"Often times you look at a guy who has size, strength, can bend and there were a number of times we had him on the offensive side because maybe we were short offensive linemen during the course of last year. Every single time it happened there would always be a couple offensive coaches saying, ‘You know what? I think that guy makes a pretty good lineman for us offensively.' So, we're giving him an opportunity there. This is a great time to do it, seeing what kind of growth we can get involved there position-wise for him here in the next couple of weeks. I think he's a willing guy. He wants to find a way to play in this league and I think he will."
That last sentence is particularly important. Proctor wasn't going to make the 53-man roster at defensive tackle, and had he stayed at that position, it's possible the Lions would have moved on for good after this year's final cuts. By switching to offensive tackle, however, there's a chance that Proctor will show enough to stick around for another year on the practice squad. It's also possible that nothing will change in the grand scheme of things following this move to the offensive side of the ball, but for Proctor and the Lions, I suppose it's worth a shot.