As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Next up is the center position. (The final year of each player's contract is listed in parentheses.)
Back from last season: Travis Swanson (2017), Darren Keyton (2016)
New to the team: Taylor Boggs (2015), Braxston Cave (2016)
When the Lions drafted Travis Swanson in the third round last year, their plan was to have him spend his rookie season learning behind Dominic Raiola before stepping into the starting center role in 2015. At least so far, things have gone pretty much exactly according to plan. Swanson was able to learn behind Raiola last season, and he even made five starts in 2014 at right guard and center. Now, with Raiola not being re-signed, the center job belongs to Swanson on a full-time basis this year.
Who will step up as the backup center really depends on what happens at left guard. If Manny Ramirez shockingly beats out Laken Tomlinson as the starting left guard, then the backup center job will be up for grabs between Darren Keyton, Taylor Boggs and Braxston Cave. Considering Boggs actually got some No. 1 reps at right guard when Larry Warford was out during the Lions' OTAs, it seems like he's ahead of the other two players right now.
Of course, given that Tomlinson will likely win the starting left guard job, chances are Ramirez will be available to be the backup at multiple spots on the O-line, including center. In that case, it's quite possible that the Lions won't even keep one of the other centers on their 53-man roster. Keyton, Boggs and Cave would likely be in a battle with undrafted guards Torrian Wilson and Al Bond for a roster spot in that scenario.
Need going forward?
If Ramirez does end up starting at left guard, it's possible the Lions could look to bring in a veteran to back up Swanson at center. Then again, given the various players already on the team who can play both guard and center, this position looks like it's already set.