The Detroit Lions selected offensive tackle Taylor Decker in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. General manager Bob Quinn hopes Decker will improve the protection for Matthew Stafford and elevate the Lions' struggling rushing attack. "He has good pass protection skills, good run blocking," Quinn said following his first round selection.
Decker is just the latest attempt by the Lions to improve an offensive line that has struggled on and off for over a decade. Detroit has used a draft pick in the top three rounds in each of the last five drafts on the offensive line. Now, in 2016, the Lions are expected to start five offensive lineman they used high draft resources on over the past five years.
Left tackle: Riley Reiff - First-round selection in 2012
Left guard: Laken Tomlinson - First-round selection in 2015
Center: Travis Swanson - Third-round selection in 2014
Right guard: Larry Warford - Third-round selection in 2013
Right tackle: Taylor Decker - First-round selection in 2016
Theoretically, Decker should be the last piece of the puzzle for the Lions' offensive line to finally thrive. But this all presumes that the Lions spent these valuable picks not only on the right positions, but on the right guys. Reiff and Swanson have had their fair share of troubles in their young careers, but of all the projected starting lineman, only Reiff is on the wrong side of 25. This line is young and full of potential.
The Lions have added offensive line talent consistently over the past five years and have had little to show for it. However, an offensive line is only as good as its weakest link, and for the past several years, the Lions' weakest link has been at the right tackle position. Now, whether Decker ends up starting at right tackle or Reiff ends up sliding to the other side, the Lions have presumably mended this broken spot.
Is this the final move that will bolster the Lions' offensive line into a respectable unit? The pick certainly makes logistical sense, but time will tell if Decker was the right player.